Pope for a day

I run a philosophy group (under the auspices of the University of the Third Age) which meets fortnightly. The majority of its 10 members are best described as agnostic. Last year I posed for them this question: If you were God, in what way would you have chosen to create the world? The discussion, for an hour and a half, was vigorous – and the conclusion was interesting. They decided that there was really nothing they would want to do differently.

What happened most frequently in the discussion was that someone would put forward a candidate for change – for example, not permitting natural disasters – and someone else would respond by pointing out all the disadvantages which would result from this. Gradually the group began to discover that all human phenomena were interlocked – and every change brought with it unintended consequences.

I propose that this week we should try a similar exercise. If we were in a position to alter some aspect of the Church what would we choose? I am assuming here, from our past conversations, that many of us believe that the present Church is far from doing as well as it might. And certainly, in Western societies, the figures show long term declines under many important headings.

For any suggestion to be helpful it needs to be concrete and practical. Airy fairy ideas don’t help. I can’t give an exhaustive list of topics but it could touch on organisation, provision of priests, liturgy, a new, internal reformation, better leadership, moral teaching, doctrinal teaching, women, good public relations, promotion of meditation, internal communication, ecclesiastical authority, catechetics, promotion of Scripture, formation of conscience, Vatican III… and so on.

If we are able to put together a good list, it might be possible to use it as a basis for a column published in the Catholic Herald. I think that a college of cardinals consisting only of contributors to Secondsightblog would be an excellent thing. Many of us would be too long in the tooth to be elected pope but I have in mind one or two candidates who would be splendid – and that could of course include the first female pope.

About Quentin

Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
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194 Responses to Pope for a day

  1. tim says:

    No female pope, but female cardinals, definitely.

    • St.Joseph says:

      What obejction do you have against a female Pope Especially if you have no objection to female cardinals.

      • milliganp says:

        Just for information, it is technically possible (froman historical perspective) for a lay person to be made a Cardinal (and thus a woman could become a cardinal) but a lay person cannot become Pope (Bishop of Rome) without ordination, which is only open to men. In practical terms though Cardinals are always selected from the rank of Bishops.
        However Canon law would have to be changed and the current Pope has specifcally excluded the idea of women Cardinals.

      • St.Joseph says:

        When did the Pope specifically exclude women Cardinals. Am I missing something?

  2. Alan says:

    Quentin – “They decided that there was really nothing they would want to do differently. ”

    People often have different views on the outcomes of such discussions. I wonder if the rest of the group remember the conclusion the same way. It would have been interesting to hear I’m sure and perhaps you have repeated the question here in the past? Since this is not the topic I’ll not mention what I’ve always thought I would do differently.

    • Quentin says:

      I certainly haven’t posed the question again formally. But, as we were in that area – and had some new members – I mentioned it in passing at the last meeting. No sign that the old members wanted to alter their views. They just giggled.

      If we get good discussion on the Church question , we could, no doubt, tackle the broader one at some time in the future.

  3. overload says:

    Quentin we are talking about THE Church, in which respect perhaps the most pressing issue, which you seem to have overlooked, and (like many issues) is probably, at least on a formal level, completely irresolvable, is the reconcilling of the Church as one body. The Church is one body, it cannot be anything else.
    Indifference is (self-)murder?

    The other pressing issue to my mind (and ties in with above), is getting all the basic facts and mysteries and uncertainties of our faith (of which Scripture is the foundation) out on the table, simple and accessible to all, and with this exposing any heresies/confusions which obstruct or pervert the grace and cross of Christ.

    I would not want to be Pope for a day because I think it is the most difficult and dysfunctional job in the world (at least in respect of issues like I have mentioned above). I wonder if these things I have mentioned are more likely to be addressed in a collective awakening in the Spirit rather than by a top-down process headed by an official leader such as a Pope. Perhaps also, to some degree or another, top-down is necessary?

  4. Geordie says:

    Power is the main obstacle to the spread of Our Lord’s teaching. Power, as we all know, corrupts but it doesn’t stop people wanting it. With power we can add money. The hierarchy, especially the Vatican inhabitants, have an inordinate desire for power and money. They are prepared to do anything to maintain their status and have been like this throughout history.
    Thus I suggest that anyone taking authority in the Church, should receive a very small salary, spartan accommodation and be expected to have a very frugal life-style. If they tried to change these rules then they should lose their positions automatically.

    • John L says:

      Thank you, Geordie, spot on! You have saved me having to write that myself.
      I don’t want to lay a heavy attack on the individuals involved, but consider the view from outside the Church. Many must wonder what such a bureaucracy can have to do with the Church that Christ set up.

    • G.D. says:

      “Thus I suggest that anyone taking authority in the Church, should receive a very small salary, spartan accommodation and be expected to have a very frugal life-style.”

      That’s gettng back to the foundations of the ‘problems’. I suggest only people already with that life style are given positions of authority. And the rest of us try to imitate it as best we can.

      • G.D. says:

        Hot & Cold running water permitted of course! …….
        True Poverty of Spirit lived in everyday life.

  5. milliganp says:

    I think we could look to the Church of England for one change; having parishes run by a Parish Council with the priest as an apointed position. One of the greatest problems of our current church is what I call “the pope in the parish”, the idea that a Parish Priest has some sort of absolute authority on everything from times of masses to who is allowed to use the parish hall, who can go to a Catholic school and the use of parish funds by personal whim.

  6. Ignatius says:

    Alas MilliganP Parish councils in practice often turn into a gaggle of Popes. I was on both PCC and Deanery synods in the Anglican church for 10 years or so.. the stuff of nightmares believe me.:-)

  7. John Nolan says:

    Re Geordie’s comment regarding ‘power’. For some reason there are English-speakers who are quick to attribute a pejorative meaning to the word. However, it is derived from the French ‘pouvoir’ out of the Latin ‘potestas’ and means ‘ability’. As far as I know, there is no English equivalent to the French ‘puissance’.

    In St John’s Gospel Pilate says to Jesus : Nescis quia potestatem habeo crugifigere te et potestatem habeo dimittere te? It’s not some sort of control-freakery – Pilate was aware that he was not of senatorial rank and was very much subject to imperial will – but he knew the extent of his jurisdiction.

    (Sorry to those who have a knee-jerk antipathy to Latin, but English words have changed substantially in meaning in my lifetime and will continue to do so.)

    • milliganp says:

      Wikipedia (which doesn’t get everything right) defines potestas as “The idea of potestas originally referred to the power, through coercion, of a Roman magistrate to promulgate edicts, give action to litigants, etc.”
      It is interesting that Jesus’ reply “Non haberes potestatem adversum me ullam, nisi tibi datum esset desuper. (Thou shouldst not have any power against me, unless it were given thee from above.)” indicates that the “power” is granted by the will of God.

      • John Nolan says:

        Interesting. The other word for power in Latin, ‘potentia’, seems to have stronger connotations of force and coercion than ‘potestas’ which certainly means authority and jurisdiction but can also simply mean capability, chance or opportunity.

        I’ve often wondered about ‘desuper’. ‘From above’ doesn’t necessarily mean from God and Pilate would certainly have interpreted the higher authority as being Caesar. Is there an implied double meaning here?

      • milliganp says:

        I think it is a double meaning. To Pilate it would have been the Emporer but to Jesus and Christians hearing the Gospel it was the will of the Father that Christ would die for our sins.

  8. G.D. says:

    The specific use of “power aganist me” (not over me) here may simply be indicating the choice of letting Jesus go or condemning him.

    The power/ability to ‘choose’ against Jesus(Christ) is given to each of us, just as it was Pilot.
    It may indicate in this case ‘God’s will’ or ‘temporal’ authority, but it could also be Jesus simply saying ‘it’s your God given ability to freely refuse me’. (Be ‘against’ me).

    The temporal position of ‘power’ Pilot has OVER Jesus may not be an issue; it may be the ability to choose AGAINST Jesus, Pilot is faced with.

    • milliganp says:

      Excuse me taking advantage of your typing mistake but I heard the story of a child who had drawn a picture of “the flight into Egypt” as Jesus, Mary and Joseph in an aeroplane, when asked who was the person in the cockpit the child said “that is Pontius the pilot”

      • G.D. says:

        You \re excused.
        And there you are (typing mstiakes by the way) Pilot did decide to change his mind in the beggining / end – symbolically prophetic child it was.

        Now what about the point that Jesus was teaching!? And i don’t mean this accredited academic said this & that so it must be.

        Do YOU really think it was to do wid temporal power only, if at all?

        Perhaps it was an indication for Pilot to get out of his head and into his haert who knows.
        Dislexia allowed and all that.

  9. St.Joseph says:

    I am not too sure if we could change anything, only if we changed Scripture, Tradition and Magesterium
    Perhaps if I had been Eve, I would not have eaten from the Tree of Knowledge., and been cast out!.
    I could live without the Adams in my life.!!

  10. Geordie says:

    John N I wasn’t speaking of power in a pejorative sense. The French word ‘pouvoir’ means ‘to be able’. ‘Power’ in English is much more (dare I say) potent than that. It is necessary in the secular world and in the spiritual world that some of us have power in order to bring some sort of order and security to the human race.
    It is the abuse of power that appears to be prevalent in the Vatican. It is the seeking of power (and wealth) for its own sake and to gratify our own egos that spurs many aspirants to positions of power. We, therefore, need a more open approach to the exercise of power. Gone are the days of paying-up and shutting-up. Young people in particular are not prepared accept such hypocrisy. They are not taught (as we learned from the last blog) what the real Church of Christ is about; and what they see before them is an institution, which is self-serving and mendacious.

  11. Martha says:

    Perhaps the best word to use for desirable qualities in cardinals, and all clergy to a certain extent, would be leadership, the benign use of power through demonstration and example, and some ability to show Christ’s teachings as attractive. Certainly, If I were Pope for a day, this would be my aim, as well as requiring genuine frugality in their lives. How much earthly pomp and splendour gives glory to God? This is an age old debate, ever since Mary Magdalen’s pouring of costly ointment over the feet of Jesus. Should the Church continue to own and safeguard the treasures of the Vatican?

  12. Nektarios says:

    If I were Pope just for a day, I would resign before sunset of the same day.
    Such a postion would compromise the Faith I have in Christ Jesus; of true Christianity to a hybrid Christianity. To exchange spiritual power for mere worldly secular power is a no deal in my view.
    To stand up in front of many thousands coming to see me, thinking I am a spiritual Papa to them when inside knowing full well I am not what they think I am – even if I am quite convivial.
    All the organizational aspects as the CEO and not trusting my exectutives to to the right thing.
    Then, the Vatican bank to deal with.
    That is all before the religious aspects, which I would have to be compromised by in doing the job.
    I would go to bed, sleep little, worry much, so, yes, if I were Pope for a day, I would indeed resign before sunset.

    • overload says:

      Forgive my ignorance as to the legality of the Papacy, however, having watched a youtube vid about Catholic/Orthodox unity by an English Orthodox Bishop involved in the ‘peace process’, I got the impression a major concern is the difference between Papal Supremacy and Papal Primacy, and that the Pope, as things stand now, as implied by his name (‘the Holy Father’), technically has absolute power—can override collegiality—if he so chooses to use it.

      So—if this is at all possible in reality??—if I found myself as Pope for the day, I imagine I might spend the day in prayer, talking with the Lord about whether He wants me to renounce the Papacy and default to Bishop of Rome. If He said yes, then perhaps I would spend the rest of the day announcing and proposing the Primacy of this seat to the Christian world (the RCC and all other trinitarian baptising churches and even those Christian churches that are not but might be open to conforming). Or I could pass this responsibility on to my successor.
      Of course, even if this is technically possible, it may not be God’s will…?
      Or it may not be possible, yet it is God’s will…?!

  13. St.Joseph says:

    I believe one ought to look up Canon Law 349 and 351 to understand ‘cardinals’ I think the last cardinal of the laity(I may be wrong) was in 1858 was only for a ‘day.
    The College of Cardinals are those that are able to vote for the next Pope..
    Deacons were if unmarried could move on to be ordained to the Priesthood
    We are all through our baptism the Priesthood of the Laity.
    Ordained priests celebrate Holy Mass, Deacons in my thinking remain still a part of the laity if they are married one flesh, when their wife dies then they can be ordained to the Priesthood
    They are very useful now as they can be a help to the priests,.Jobs as milliganp called it.
    So neither female or males can be called a Cardinal in the sense that gets misunderstood to undermine females.

    If I were Pope for a day I could not see any reason why mothers who have grown up children or perhaps single or widows can not be a part of the diaconate of the ‘Laity’.
    They are no different than a married deacon.
    The hand that rocked the cradle rules the world,
    Having married priests from the C of E has not helped but confused the’ celibacy’of our Catholic Church . with the movement for married priests!
    If I were a Pope I would change something else, I will leave that for another commentand not to confuse the issue!


  14. John Nolan says:

    Can we bury some myths about the cardinalate which surfaced before Francis’s first Consistory? Originally the cardinals were the clergy of Rome and the bishops of suburbicarian sees. This was extended to the Church outside Rome in the 12th century. So-called ‘lay cardinals’ were in fact in minor orders and so, Canon Law apart, it was never possible, even theoretically, for a woman to be made a cardinal.

    The whole argument rested on women being ordained deacons, in which case the provisions of Canon Law (1917 and 1983) could be modified. But women are not even admitted to the lay ministries of lector and acolyte which replaced the minor orders in 1972, let alone the major orders, and this seems unlikely to change.

    • St.Joseph says:

      John Nolan.
      I should not bet on it if I were you..
      We have female Alter Servers, female Extraordinary Ministers. female readers, I am sure they would be able to preach a sermon, even deacons have to be taught that.
      They could also witness a marriage,that does not have to be a male, as the laity are witnesses to a marriage..
      So why tell me the theological reason why women can not be deacons but’ married men can’?

    • St.Joseph says:

      John Nolan.
      I have just read the General Instructions of the Roman Missal
      In the absence of the instituted acolyte, lay ministers may be depicted to serve at the Altar and assist the priest and deacon. They may carry the Cross, light the candles,the Thurible, the bread and the wine and distribute Holy Communion as Extradionary Ministers.
      So what is are you saying exactly?

  15. John Nolan says:

    St Joseph
    Married men can be priests, commonly in the Eastern tradition, which also applies to Byzantine-rite Churches in communion with Rome, but also in the Latin Church, where celibacy is a discipline (albeit an important one) which can be relaxed in certain circumstances.

    Female altar servers are a novelty, and a controversial one at that, and the idea of lay people of either sex handing out Communion would have been regarded as scandalous even in my lifetime. The laity have their role, and it is an essential one. Recently I sang at the funeral of an old lady I did not even know who had requested the older rite. Requiem Mass, Absolutions, procession to the grave, everything according to the Liber Usualis. We were an all-male schola of five and wore choir dress (cassock and cotta). Yet everything we sang is not reserved to the clergy and in fact is the preserve of the laity. In a monastic setting it would have been sung by monks or nuns but outside of this it belongs to the congregation.

    Lay involvement does not consist of assuming a ‘liturgical’ role. Reading a lesson is not involvement, since only one person reads and the rest simply listen. Extraordinary Ministers (whose use is rarely justified) are nothing special. Not long ago I had to MC for a Latin (OF) Mass and the priest asked me to administer the Chalice. I agreed to do so, but my main liturgical function, ex temporaneo deputatione, was to serve the Mass and sing the first two lessons.

  16. St.Joseph says:

    John Nolan.
    Thank you.
    I still stick to my opinion, if married men can become a deacon, so can women,if married.However if not married not all want to be a Nun.It would encourage them to be NFP teachers as the rule for deacons is strict, not just for females but for husbands.
    I read that in the early church deacons wives were called deaconess’ and also their was a female deacon mentioned
    If a married man as I said before is one flesh with is wife they are joined together ‘spiritually’as one
    Which is a bit different than a secular union!
    I have been to Mass where a married priest has said Mass and before and after Mass he sits alone! I find that terrible,.. That says it all to me! What ‘God’ has joined together spititually.
    I suppose I see it different to you, a celibate priest is a celibate priest, a married deacon is not a part of the Ordained priesthood..the Heirarchy and Priests That will not make females’ priestess’s’
    .If married men can become priests as you say the rule can be relaxed, then so can the rule for female deacons.

    • John Nolan says:

      A married deacon is in Holy Orders, as is a married priest. His wife does not share in his ordination, nor has she any liturgical role. This is hardly an argument for female deacons, the historical existence and precise role of whom is lost in the mists of time.

      • St.Joseph says:

        John I do respect your thoughts,however also respect mine.
        Holy Mother Church has changed more sorrowful things through ‘modernism’ than having female deacons. and no doubt will in the future, or can things be any worse!
        Young people are not becoming any more interested in the religious life because of a deacon father, however their mother would probably make a big difference.
        Jesus took a lot of notice of His Mother and She was in a higher position in the church than any POPE!.

      • milliganp says:

        What John Nolan has stated is a fact and a doctrine of the church to which every Catholic is obliged to give assent. This cannot be set on the same level as an opinion, however well meant.
        I’m not sure why you feel only women can pass on the faith; in my case it was very much the faith of my father that inspired me and my love of him that led me to offer myself to the service of the church.
        We honour Mary as mother of the church but to imply that from this women are superior to men and to denigrate the office of the Pope is as offensive to Mary as it is to her Son who established the church.

      • St.Joseph says:

        I do wish that you would read the whole ‘conversation’ when one comments to each other.
        and not be so quick to judge and critise single statements.
        This is a probem with some on the blog
        NFP was in my thinking when speaking about female women, if mothers taught their daughter the theology of family planning it would be passed on to generation to generation grandmother to grandmother,
        Womens place in the church is very often undermined by male chauvenists.
        Did you teach your daughters if any as a father on the facts of life. One of the important subjects is NFP , women a deacons would have more clout against those who think a womens place behind her husband!
        It is not only about swinging a thurible and preaching from a pulpit and wearing a clerical collar.
        Please read the whole of the answers without taking them out of context.
        Which you have a habit of doing.

      • St.Joseph says:

        And BTW.
        It is the Mother of the Church ‘Who was and is appearing all over the world and not deceased Popes!’

      • St.Joseph says:

        Thank you for your response and apology.
        I will just mention that I did not say that married deacons wives could be called deaconess, I said ‘it would not make them one’.
        Also NFP is an important doctrine of the Church when contraception is forbidden.
        It is connected to the Truth and can not be seperated.
        We are not a stagnent Church and She teaches through Revelation.
        Contraception is not a new revealed truth, and NFP is not a new revealed truth, however the scientific knowledge is, so it ought to be a serious teaching of Mother Church
        and not left to the laity to figure it out, that is what the Church is for.
        To Teach. So if married Deacons do not show the example, then it must me left to a female attached to the Diaconate and not to the Priesthood of the Laity.
        It needs Authority coming from the Top.

    • St.Joseph says:

      And by the way ‘It is our Blessed Mother ‘who has and is’ appearing all over the world with messages for Her children and not deceased Popes RIP. as much as I respect them!

      • milliganp says:

        St. Joseph, I will apologise for joining in the middle of a conversation and missing part of your stream of thought. However the fact that a deacon is married does not negate the sacrament of orders and there is no natural sequitur which says if priests can marry women should be able to become deacon(esses). I would also point out that, although important, NFP is not the sole doctrine of the church.
        On a mildly diversionary note, in the local “churches together” where I live there was a married Anglican minister whose wife always accompanied him onto the altar -and she had a seat specific to her office. I also know a couple of married former Anglican priests and I do find the distancing from their wives in church a little unsettling.
        Marriage is a vocation of great importance (I might say greater importance than even Priesthood since every priest has a mother and father) which tends to get undervalued in a male, clericalised church.

  17. Iona says:

    “In practical terms though Cardinals are always selected from the rank of Bishops.”
    Cardinal Newman wasn’t.

    • John Nolan says:

      Correct. But there is a recent example (Avery Dulles SJ) who was made a cardinal by JP II and declined episcopal consecration. It’s rumoured that Paul VI wanted to give a red hat to the layman Jacques Maritain but nothing came of it. Presumably he heeded advice.

  18. Iona says:

    Quentin: a facetious aside:
    There is a novel (unfortunately it’s a long time since I read it, and I have forgotten both the title and the author) in which an elderly Jewish man meets God – also appearing as an elderly Jewish man – in his basement, and has various conversations with Him. On one occasion he asks: If you were to start over again, would you do anything differently? Do you think you made any mistakes? The God character reflects for a few minutes and then says: “The avocado. I made the stone too big.”

  19. Iona says:

    Well, that’s funny. I just wrote another post, clicked “Post Comment” and it’s disappeared. Checked back to see if it had appeared further up, but no.

  20. Iona says:

    Ah! Yes it has (the facetious one). It just took its time.

  21. Iona says:

    Getting back to Quentin’s original topic:
    I don’t know about changing the Church as a whole, but I do think the English and Welsh bishops’ idea of moving certain feast days (such as Epiphany) to the nearest Sunday was not a good one. I understand it was to make life easier for the laity; but I’m not convinced the laity appreciates having life made “easier”. The fewer and milder the demands being made on one, the more flaccid one becomes. Fasting, similarly. I read recently (probably the Catholic Herald) about two young men / teenagers who were challenged by a Muslim friend to fast along with him throughout Ramadan. They did so, – and by the end of Ramadan had decided to become Muslims! (Though whether they changed their minds on realising they would have to be circumcised, was not stated).

  22. St.Joseph says:

    I would like the Bishops and Priests also to encourage the laity and themselves to watch EWTN.
    They would learn a lot from the American Catholic Church, also to encourage parents to let their young children watch the programmes in the day time there is some wonderful stories for them to learn the faith about the Bible and the Saints. They are particularly in the style for the young.
    Daphne Mcleod also did some wonderful talks on the faith.for children and are repeated often.
    It is a wonderful gift to have our faith explored like it is.
    I do wish the church would broadcast it more .
    There used to be a programme ‘Watch with Mother’ they could make it there slogan!.

  23. Quentin says:

    One area of change might concern subsidiarity. This is the principle that decisions should be taken at the lowest practicable level. It is explicit in Catholic social teaching because it responds to created human nature, and it certainly applies to the Church. However it has been noted that, on the whole, the Church ignores at — and much prefers a fiat from on high, Pope Francis has shown by his words and actions that he favours subsidiarity, but I think it has a long way to go before it becomes a characteristic.

    For those not familiar with the principle, I have referred to it from time to time on this blog. You might like to use the search box for: Autonomy and Obedience. This post includes a few lines on communication — another hobby horse of mine.

  24. John Candido says:

    I would immediately order an international theological commission to examine a number of issues that are germane to contemporary society and have a bearing on theological & canonical questions. The commission would be made up of an even number of men & women, as well as an even number of lay and clerical experts. The commission must also be filled with conservatives, moderates and liberal members, each of which are to be one third of commission members overall.

    The expertise of commission members would lie in medicine, psychiatry, psychology, embryology, as well as theology, philosophy, ecclesiastical history and canon law. Any preliminary or final report will be published in all languages on the Vatican website. I would also institute a body of lay advisers that could inform the church of issues that are germane to it such as marriage, familial, contraceptive, economic or theological.

    Updating the Church’s understanding of current secular knowledge of human sexuality as informed by modern scientific knowledge, and how this may form the basis of reform of church doctrine on homosexuality, masturbation, contraception and abortion. The potential of removing celibacy to the priesthood as well as admitting women to the priesthood and the office of bishop must undergo examination.

    Any Roman Catholic worth their salt would rather see that the Eucharist is easily distributed throughout the world through the mass, and that the world-wide shortage of celibate male Priests must make way for male and female priests who are free to marry. The contemporary availability of the Eucharist is infinitely more important than a 12th century canon.

    The inviolacy of the human conscience must be one of the highest priorities for the commission. The church’s tradition of the human conscience needs to be strengthened & reaffirmed. The freedom and inviolacy of the human conscience must be positioned as one of our most important teachings on the dignity of the human person and central to their inalienable human rights.

    The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the final court of appeal known as ‘The Roman Rota’, the Apostolic Signatura (administrative court), all other ecclesiastical courts of the church that may deal with apostasy and heresy, and the Pope’s supreme judicial authority, needs a contemporary understanding of justice, due process, human rights, the church’s tradition on the human conscience, as well as full and open transparency and accountability.

    The anonymous informing of those that we don’t agree with through ‘delation’ must be brought to an end. The church and the world must know who is making accusations against a person, as well as what is or are the accusations being made against anyone. Every final judgement of the CDF must be fully explained and justified, as well as published on the Vatican’s website in a plethora of languages, much like the role of common-law judges.

    Anyone accused of an ecclesiastical offence must be presumed innocent until they are judged otherwise and they must have the right to their own defence. Every case must be open to any canon lawyer, theologian, journalist or member of the public to examine. All cases must be available to read by any member of the public through the Vatican website or by specialists searching the CDF’s archives.

    • G.D. says:

      What John no ordinary people to make thier point ?

      • John Candido says:

        What do you mean G.D.?

      • G.D. says:

        You said: “The commission would be made up of an even number of men & women, as well as an even number of lay and clerical experts.”
        I’d like to see some of us ordinary ‘ingnorant peasants’ without expertise there too. Is all.

  25. John Candido says:

    The doctrine of original sin has to be removed from the church’s doctrines and replaced with a more realistic understanding of human frailty as it has garnered though evolutionary processes. The idea that ‘Eve’ or some primordial figure is to blame for our ‘fallen’ nature and all of history’s consequent tragedies. That God has imposed human suffering as punishment for this primary or original act of rebellion, whatever it may possibly be is preposterous.

    The church must have a global child care policy in place for the protection of children. Behavioural norms must be established and enforced. It is the solemn duty of any person to report any crime to the police regardless of the ecclesiastical position that they possess. A new secretariat for children should be created to administer this important area.

    Remarriage after divorce should not preclude anyone from the Eucharist. The process of annulment in the Catholic Church and the code of canon law have to be revised in light of any reforms produced by the commission, and in order to better serve the laity through better access to diocesan tribunals and speedier decisions.

    The reform of the Curia and all who work in them is a top priority. No one is to be given any sinecures or lifetime appointments. I would rename the Curia to a more prosaic one and insist that everyone working there is a real servant to everyone in the church. All of their work must be open, transparent and individual responsibility will be expected of all who work there. This means that dismissals will be enforced for any member who is not up to a delineated standard that is expected of them, or who has committed acts to block or obfuscate information, is guilty of fraud, or has made threats against anyone.

    Papal infallibility needs to be given an examination in the light of contemporary theological understanding, human rights, and the freedom of the human conscience. Why anyone would want to be given an infallible faculty germane to specific religious pronouncements beggars belief. In the entire history of the church there have only been two infallible pronouncements. The canonical and theological etiology of papal infallibility and its historical justification can be gleaned from the Reformation and the First Vatican Council.

    Various models of governance should be examined for a greater democratisation of church positions and all ecclesiastical structures. This is in order to promote greater accountability and transparency throughout the church. Finally, it would be preferable if all reforms that are proposed by the theological commission are also examined and voted on by a Third Vatican Council by all of the church’s bishops. Teleconferencing and the use of the internet can be considered for any bishops who cannot attend in person.

    • Nektarios says:

      John Candido
      You say, “The doctrine of original sin has to be removed from the church’s doctrines and replaced with a more realistic understanding of human frailty as it has garnered though evolutionary processes. The idea that ‘Eve’ or some primordial figure is to blame for our ‘fallen’ nature and all of history’s consequent tragedies. That God has imposed human suffering as punishment for this primary or original act of rebellion, whatever it may possibly be is preposterous.”

      You show your liberal baise here, but no spiritual understanding.
      Why did the Eternal Son of God become incarnate, John? What was He doing here?

      You say, “That God has imposed human suffering as punishment for this primary or original act of rebellion, whatever it may possibly be is preposterous.”

      Consider all that Christ, the Beloved bore for us, and for what purposes?
      Consider all the sufferings of Christ to redeem us.
      No John, it may be preposterous to you, but to me and others who truly believe, it was the means to bring forgiveness for our sin and eternal damnation and make us children of God, sons of God, and much more, accepted in the Beloved, as Christ the Eternal Son is the Eternal Beloved of the Father, so are believers in Christ by Adoption.
      So far from being preposterous, John, it is eternally glorious to us!

      • G.D. says:

        God forgiving does not eqaute with God imposing suffering.
        If God is ALL loving then God CAN NOT impose anything.

      • John Candido says:

        ‘Why did the Eternal Son of God become incarnate, John? What was He doing here?’ (G.D.)

        He became incarnate to lead us by example, to occupy suffering as some form of explanation for its existence which is ultimately mysterious, to establish his church, and to teach us all a better way of being human. Suffering and death should be explained as a product of evolutionary processes and not a result of a primordial fall from grace by the action of some mythical figure from Genesis. Childhood cancer or the suffering and/or death of children as a result of child abuse cannot possibly be explained by the responsibility of an original sinner from antiquity. The very notion that children or anyone else from around the world must suffer and die as a direct result of someone sinning in antiquity is farcical.

        How are innocent children responsible for somebody else sinning? God isn’t someone who is aloof to human suffering and God is not someone to allow others to suffer for some anonymous, long lost person from the dawn of history. You would have to ask yourself what possible sin could have led God to break a full communion or grace with all humans, by some unknown individual from the dawn of time? Was that sin so great that everyone else must pay the penalty for it as well? It must have been quite a sin! These considerations lead me to consider the idea of original sin as utterly absurd and nonsensical.

        I am not suggesting that sin does not exist and people do indeed have varying degrees of culpability for them depending on their circumstances.

      • John Candido says:

        My apologies to G.D. for attributing the above quotation to him. That was a quotation from Nektarios.

    • overload says:

      JC: “The idea that ‘Eve’ or some primordial figure is to blame for our ‘fallen’ nature and all of history’s consequent tragedies. That God has imposed human suffering as punishment for this primary or original act of rebellion, whatever it may possibly be is preposterous.”

      As I understand it Eve and Adam both have responsibility (although Eve first), but the real blame so to speak is on the higher spirit being who rebelled against authority, who’s original sin seems to have been: disobedience, pride, envy, murder (malice & deceit), and perhaps more (ie. covetousness, and maybe adultery), if we understood fully the motive(s) and what actually happened. It seems that in turn, Adam and Eve’s sin can be more naively and relatively innocently reduced to just disobedience and lust/covetousness, although perhaps it implies much more than this by implication of their believing the Serpent, and because of the nature of the mistake, once it was made there was no possibility of rectifying it. (By comparison off the top of my head, a Nazi guard in a concentration camp may have found himself there because merely wanting a job; but once on the job he may have found himself forced to do terrible things which he knows not how to refuse or avoid.

      • overload says:

        Actually I wonder if disobedience per se equates to adultery, to adulterate?

      • St.Joseph says:

        You say ‘As you understand it Adam and Eve both have responsibilty (although Eve first)!
        What do you mean by Eve first?

      • overload says:

        St Joseph, my thoughts…

        In Scripture Paul makes it fairly clear some things about the natural order of things regarding men and women. Many people think he is sexist, but when he talks about women covering their heads and being quiet in church, he suggests that this is not a cultural thing but that women are under the authority of men (the ‘head’ of woman is man, and Christ the ‘head’ of man), and “because the angels are watching”. He also says he would not tolerate any women teachers. Perhaps this was partly circumstantial, such as in a free-for-all situation where right order needed to be established.
        In the circumstance of today perhaps we have to adapt to a situation in which the right order of things cannot possibly function, so like at wartime, some of the rules (rather, rules of thumb?) needs be thrown out of the window—no, rather laid to the side but still in view—?

        As for original sin, Paul also talks about the importance of women being humble because—adding to the issue of authority—Eve sinned first. I don’t think this is a guilt thing, nor to say that women are more guilty than men, but perhaps indicates a mystery (which I don’t fully understand) about the relationship between men and women, and the ease with which women can disregard and undermine the authority of men (even if there are times when this is necessary). Of course men can easily cock-up—but this is in some respects our burden, that we have been given such responsibilities of authority.

        So considering this relationship between man and women in our fallen nature, within the universal order / natural law, I am inclined to wonder about the Church: who perverted the Church first, was it a Pope misleading the Church, or the Church influencing a Pope? (I am thinking of the Church as a woman, much like we think of a nation or a ship as a woman.)

      • St.Joseph says:

        In the New Testament God called Our Blessed Mother the new Eve, and Jesus the New Adam,both sinless.
        At the foot of the Cross Jesus said to StJohn,’ this is your mother’, to Mary He said’ this is you Son’ Making Her the Mother of the Church.
        See my last comment today at 11.17am where I quoted the CCC ref to the Church’s teaching on the dignity of females CCC 2344-2355..
        Do you think you are ‘superior’ to your mother?
        As far as I am concerned Scripture Tradition and the Magisterium, go together, you can not have one without the other especially if you are a catholic.
        The readings at Mass are usually explained when read by the priest or deacon.
        I am fortunate to have them explained to me every time I go to Mass on Sunday and a weekday, which thank God I am able to do lately.
        I understand what you say about ‘some’ women who dont live a dignified life, no different to males, they let themselves down and bring their children up the same way
        Prostitution would not survive if men did not use the facility. If some men respected women and not used them as sex objects to satisfy their sexual needs, prostitutes would soon die out
        So you see overload. both male and female are the same in sin.
        We ought to bring our children up under Our Blessed Mothers and St Joseph’s protection, as we did years ago when, we placed them in their Loving care.
        However we have moved too far into materialism and technology and we need God now more than ever!

      • overload says:

        I hope I don’t think I’m superior to my mother, or anyone for that matter, unless it be in true and godly to think such!

        By way of an aside, I was talking to my parents today about the RCC, and I mentioned ‘man’/’mankind’. Apparently this was offensive to both of them, and I asked my father “does this offend you?” he said yes. So I think am to speak of ‘humankind’ or ‘men and women’ in their presence. I think I can appreciate something of why they don’t like this, and there are certain things about feminism re. equality that I believe good and necessary because many men have misused the words of Scripture on this matter to oppress and take advantage of women.
        I’m confused about whether to honour my parents on this matter or to stick with ‘man’/’mankind’… any thoughts?

        Another point of interest with regards the natural law difference between men and women, and the problems of women undermining men, I have read somewhere that in Buddhist teaching women were originally not allowed to become disciples (only devotees), but the Buddha overruled this out of compassion for some women who pleaded with Him to become monks (disciples), however He said this would shorten the life of the spiritual community of His disciples to only 500 years, which would coincide roughly with the coming of Jesus Christ. Not sure if what I read is accurate but interesting thought.
        The Buddha also apparently said that it was not possible for a woman to attain Nirvana in this life, although a woman could be a ‘stream winner’ and perhaps further than this (further being a ‘once-returner’ and then a ‘non-returner’), although I can’t remember.

        Of course we are told that in Christ (therein, as the new creation), there is no difference between man and woman. However we still according to our/the sinful nature (believe we) live as the old creation—live according to natural law.

  26. Nektarios says:

    John Candido, certainly highlights not only how far away the Church had drifted, or deliberately changed itself from true Christianity if we were to measure ourselves up to those early Christians. JC has also highlighted for us, the modernity and the mess the Church is in and has been for a very long time. Acts 2 onwards.
    If the Pope for a day is of the ilk that JC decribes, it does not bode well for an already spiritually weak Church despite all the PC appearance and gloss, having very little or nothing to say to the modern man.
    Some may consider what I say here is a bit harsh on the Church? JC only highlights just how far removed from Christianity the Church has gone. There is nothing of God in it, nothing of Christ in it, nothing of the actions of the Holy Spirit in it. Nothing what the Bible says the Church is, What the people of God are and how they relate to one another &c, &c.
    In the words of the Scottish bard, Robert Burns, “O the gift that God wid gie us, to see ourselves as others see us!

    • G.D. says:

      To lump all the people, that make up the church, together and say there is nothing of God in them is an extreem that you can not possibly know.

      Harsh? Down right prejudicial. Not to mention judgemental & fanatical.

      The Church is more than you or I can see or tell. It’s beyond, but embraces, out weak efforts to be ‘right’ with God in community (groups of one sort or another) and as individual children of God.

      Sinners we are one and all – but it’s not a sin to be a sinner! There is no punishment we need fear, there is only love calling us on. Those who TRY to sicincerly follow God’s Way (in whatever way shape or form) are responding to that love. Inadequately, but responding none the less.

      • Nektarios says:

        You say, “To lump all the people, that make up the church, together and say there is nothing of God in them is an extreem that you can not possibly know.

        Harsh? Down right prejudicial. Not to mention judgemental & fanatical.

        To deal with your first point G.D., where in what I said, can you say I am lumping everyone that makes up the church and say, there is nothing of God in them? Please retract that.

        I presume your first point which is wrong as to my view, leads to your second comment
        that what I said was, `Harsh? Downright prejudicial. Not to mention judgemental and fanatical.”
        I would ask you to retract that too. As one been involved in Ministry for many years, I am not unaware of what the Church truly is in Christ. Nor am I unaware, of the many changes that have taken place over the last five decades alone, that has seen the Church weakened by humanistic, philosophical, secular thinking – see JC’s posting if you want proof. But all that is not Christianity.

  27. Brendan says:

    Maybe you’d like to start a ‘ new church ‘ John Candido ? There are plenty to choose from among’st the thousands of non-Catholic available in the world. After all what value is ‘ doctrine ‘ if it is to be flouted willy-nilly by all and sundry in every age? Surely Catholic doctrine by definition is settled and to be developed ( not given short shrift ) as the word of God, as we ‘ develop ‘ our World in light of gods plan. It is not the slave of history past or future ; unless you are one who posits ‘ gradualism ‘ in these matters .My Catholic mind has not theologically entertained this word until lately – in political circles and rather ominously in our Church Synod . Sounds very much Church of England to me though , but then of course so is democracy , ‘ canonised ‘ by our Western political leaders. Myself, in religious terms I prefer something more solid – Sacred Scripture , Tradition , The Magisterium – to live by ( as a visiting priest from Chile reminded me of the other day ), rather than ending up with a relativistic ‘ tower of Babel ‘. In the Church as I perceive it today , I see the settled tension of living ,somewhere between ‘ worldliness ‘ and the ‘ divine ‘ as being the more plausible……Never mind Quentin is only giving us space for our imagination to run riot after all.

    • John Candido says:

      ‘After all what value is ‘doctrine’ if it is to be flouted willy-nilly by all and sundry in every age? Surely Catholic doctrine by definition is settled and to be developed (not given short shrift) as the word of God, as we ‘develop’ our World in light of God’s plan. It is not the slave of history past or future; unless you are one who posits ‘gradualism’ in these matters.’ (Brendan)

      Doctrine is not immune to being reinterpreted through theological development. Theological insights and our human development will continue to play a role in changing our understanding of doctrine. To assert that the Roman Catholic Church’s ecclesiological understanding of itself, its social teaching, or its theological development over time has never changed over two thousand years is false.

      • Brendan says:

        John – I am asserting nothing of the sort ! Doctrine ( Church Dogma ) is non of these things and remains immutable. Our understanding of what the ‘ essence ‘ of defined doctrine is , does change in every age and therefore developed.
        For example the doctrine of ‘ infallibility ‘ held by the Church through the Petrine Ofice has developed over time through the conscious understanding of the Church on this issue . But the growing realisation that ones conscience in the end is sovereign is checked by the realisation that it is found ‘ wanting ‘ and not altogether autonomous in its own right in resolving doctrinal and moral issues. Something which better minds than mine have deduced from Blessed John Henry Newmans writings…. and so it continues. The Orthodox East have a great opportunity I believe to encourage a meeting of minds with The Catholic West on this matter if the will is there on both sides , by the grace of God.

    • RAHNER says:

      Brendan :”Our understanding of what the ‘ essence ‘ of defined doctrine is , does change in every age and therefore developed.”

      So what development would you propose for our understanding of the doctrine of original sin?

      • Brendan says:

        Rahner – Looking back at my last piece , you have indeed found me in error. Thank you for raising my attention to my own misstatement. While ones understanding and application of doctrine can develop overtime , its ‘ essence ‘ cannot change .
        As I understand it the Early Church was presented with a number of possibilities to understand the context in which Christs redemptive action was foretold and crucially necessary for the salvation of mankind,,,, ” O happy fault , O necessary sin of Adam….” – Easter Exultet. Largely through the influence of St. Augustine of Hippo it became settled dogma in the 5th Century. I assume that that development of doctrine has remained to this day , based on Sacred Scripture, Church Tradition and The Teaching Authority of the One , Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church Of Christ.

  28. Iona says:

    John Candiddo – suppose your international theological commission examined all the issues you wanted it to examine, and consulted all the experts you wanted it to consult, and concluded that a male celibate priesthood is of value as a “sign of contradiction” to the world at large, that the human embryo is human from conception hence that abortion is a form of murder, that sexual acts outside marriage (including those between two people of the same sex) are sinful, – would you then accept its conclusions or would you feel that it was mistaken and corrupt and that another international theological commission should be established forthwith, to reconsider?

    • John Candido says:

      This is a hypothetical question Iona. My reply to it is that I would have to fall on my sword and let matters lie where they are where their is no room to move. Other issues may not be rejected in this hypothetical scenario and I would probably work on those.

  29. Nektarios says:

    John Candido
    ‘Why did the Eternal Son of God become incarnate, John? What was He doing here?’ (G.D.) (Nektarios quotation.)

    He became incarnate to lead us by example, to occupy suffering as some form of explanation for its existence which is ultimately mysterious, to establish his church, and to teach us all a better way of being human. Suffering and death should be explained as a product of evolutionary processes and not a result of a primordial fall from grace by the action of some mythical figure from Genesis. Childhood cancer or the suffering and/or death of children as a result of child abuse cannot possibly be explained by the responsibility of an original sinner from antiquity. The very notion that children or anyone else from around the world must suffer and die as a direct result of someone sinning in antiquity is farcical.

    How are innocent children responsible for somebody else sinning? God isn’t someone who is aloof to human suffering and God is not someone to allow others to suffer for some anonymous, long lost person from the dawn of history. You would have to ask yourself what possible sin could have led God to break a full communion or grace with all humans, by some unknown individual from the dawn of time? Was that sin so great that everyone else must pay the penalty for it as well? It must have been quite a sin! These considerations lead me to consider the idea of original sin as utterly absurd and nonsensical.

    Well, John, what I have read of your posting above, I find it hard to take you seriously. It seems to me you are implying that it is not so much Man that is at fault, but God, and He has to change to fit your liberal viewpoint.
    It is worse than that John, How can you call yourself a Christian with the views you posted above?
    If you still call yourself a Christian, then on what you say above, you have no grounds to say so.

    To answer your questions in full here is not posssible, but what I can say is this:
    God is Righteous, God is Holy. It is not God that is wrong but your thinking/liberal philosophy/theology if one could call it that.

    Lastly John, your reading of Scripture is suspect. Like many today you divide what the Word says from the content and its meaning. Hence the views you have expressed above. Sad indeed, and does not display great spirituality, but ignorance and earthbound,linear thinking. Sorry to be so blunt,John.

    • John Candido says:

      That’s OK Nektarios, no offence taken.

      • RAHNER says:

        This topic has been discussed many times. But you a quite right. The idea that suffering and death has been brought into the world as a consequence of the behaviour of early human beings in the remote past is laughably implausible. This idea is still set out in the CCC. My suggestion is that the CCC should be scrapped an rewritten in a way which takes of modern scholarship in Biblical studies, theology and philosophy. A modest proposal really…..

      • overload says:

        JC: ” Childhood cancer or the suffering and/or death of children as a result of child abuse cannot possibly be explained by the [sole] responsibility of an original sinner from antiquity. The very notion that children or anyone else from around the world must suffer and die as a direct result of someone sinning in antiquity is farcical.”
        I think this statement is true.

        Original sin does not mean we suffer directly because of the original sin of Satan and Eve and Adam, but, as explained in Romans, sin is propagated from Adam. I think we can say that it breeds, spreads and festers/adapts/mutates (taking every opportunity) through the development and evolution of mankind and his culture(s). We are considering a living scientific process—like bacteria or fungus (or a virus?), perhaps.

        If I remember and understand correctly, according to Buddhist scriptures, mankind at one stage had a life-span of thousand (or hundreds of thousands) of years. But with the gradual proliferation of evil, the rule of sin & death (and disease and accident) gradually increased their gravity. And yet we somehow find ourselves where we are now, which has apparently always had disease/corruption, accident and death, as we find them now. So of course, with our scientific knowledge today one can easily look at such narratives (along with the longevity of human lifespan as described early in Genesis) as merely a myth. And on this basis you therefor believe it is good science to assert with certainty that Genesis is merely a myth. But you could be wrong! Yet the limited scope of your imagination will not permit you to entertain this possibility?

      • John Candido says:

        I completely agree with RAHNER about the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). I would add this important task of reform to the proposed international theological commission as well.

      • St.Joseph says:

        John Candido and RAhner,
        Have you forgotten God gave us a Free Will, you dont have to abide by the CCC if you dont like it!
        It is not all about us, it is about God. !Also the Sacrifice of Holy Mass is about the Worship of God and not about us!
        Pride is a deadly Sin!
        When I was small their was a saying, ‘You must not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain! It will bring His anger and wrath upon you!
        Keep looking over your shoulders is my advice to both of you!

  30. Brendan says:

    Rahner – My reply to you ( 3.29pm ) suggests to me that in my honest mistake ( in conscience ) why we need infallible teaching of The Church to settle matters of doctrine. I would be interested in having your ideas on the entry of ” suffering and death …. brought into the world “

  31. G.D. says:

    Nektarios, ………….. “John Candido, certainly highlights not only how far away the Church had drifted, or deliberately changed itself from true Christianity” ……….. by the use of ‘only’ I assumed you agreed ……… ” stuppid of me of course.

    and from a previous post …….. “it may be preposterous to you, but to me and others who truly believe, it was the means to bring forgiveness for our sin and eternal damnation and make us children of God …..” ……….. from that i conclude them that don’t ‘truly believe’, according to you, are not one of ‘us children of God.’ ……….. Fanatical.

    • Nektarios says:

      “it may be preposterous to you, but to me and others who truly believe, it was the means to bring forgiveness for our sin and eternal damnation and make us children of God …..”
      I should have more fully and correctly written:
      “It may be preposterous to you, but to me and others who truly believe, it was the means of God’s grace to bring forgiveness for our sin, delivering us from eternal damnation and made us children of God.

      That G.D. is a summery of the Gospel is it not? What is fanatical about it, I fail to see.

      • overload says:

        It is said in one way or another again and again in the NT: those who do not believe in Jesus Christ are under condemnation.
        Those who do not now truly believe have yet still time to do so, and those who do not say/think they believe may yet already truly believe, and those who say they believe may not yet truly believe, or may not believe at all. Does this cover it?

      • overload says:

        …yet for one to truly believe but not think one believes, this seems more than a little problematic… but far from impossible, I believe.

      • G.D. says:

        Corectly written it makes totaly different sense. But still seems a bit dodgy to my mind, with the phrase “but to me and others who truly believe”. Sounds a bit exclusive.
        Personally I’d use ‘but to those who sincerley seek the Truth, it is the means …’et.

        Even then it’s not the way I experience ‘church’. Or see the gospel message.
        I see the church as all inclusive for all creation; and the gospel message is a teaching to show the Way to accepting the all inclusive love that God is in that ,church,

        But that’s just the way I’ve come to know God. I don’t assume it’s the correct way for all to know God. Or, indeed, that I have embraced fullnesss of ‘church’, or enough of the gospel teachings in my own life, that would be arrogant of me, ……….. I do not assert : only conjecture.

  32. John Nolan says:

    John Candido
    If the members of your grand international theological commission are required to have expertise in medicine, psychiatry, embryology, theology, philosophy, ecclesiastical history and canon law, any single one of which requires a lifetime of study, how would they agree on anything? Take theologians, for example (and if it is a theological commission presumably they would be in the majority) – they disagree amongst themselves. What criteria would you use to define conservatives, moderates and liberals to make up your quotas? Having an equal number of men and women might make the after-discussion parties more lively, but unless you believe that (say) a woman doctor thinks differently from her male counterpart, there is little point, apart from gesture politics.

    Two more questions. What (or who) is the 12th century canon to whom you refer? And what are the only two infallible pronouncements in the entire history of the Church? Bear in mind that infallibility is normally exercised through the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium (provided the conditions are met) and this scuppers your women priests idea for starters.

    • Alan says:

      “but unless you believe that (say) a woman doctor thinks differently from her male counterpart, there is little point, apart from gesture politics.”

      Wouldn’t there be some point to this if male and female doctors thought the same way but weren’t treated as if they did?

      • John Nolan says:

        ‘Wouldn’t there be some point to this if male and female doctors thought the same way but weren’t treated as if they did?’ Perhaps, if this were the case (which I very much doubt).

        I don’t take what JC says too seriously; he has so many bees in his bonnet he could probably make a living selling honey.

      • Alan says:

        “Perhaps, if this were the case (which I very much doubt).”

        What makes you doubt this?

        I don’t know about doctors, but there are a number of examples in other professions which suggest women are treated quite differently despite being equal to the tasks. Take musicians for example, the number of them hired to certain orchestras has risen quite dramatically since auditions for jobs have been conducted (if you’ll pardon the pun) blind. I’d be a bit surprised if this mismatch between ability and perception of ability wasn’t at work within the medical profession too.

    • John Candido says:

      Here is one canon lawyer saying that there were only two infallible pronouncements.


      • John Nolan says:

        A solemn declaration by the pope ex cathedra, or by a general Council constitute what is known as the ‘Extraordinary Magisterium’ and indeed there are only two such pronouncements. That does not mean that all doctrine apart from the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption is fallible. The Ordinary and Universal Magisterium of the bishops in communion with the pope is also infallible since the Holy Ghost will not lead the Church into error. (see Lumen Gentium). This is often ignored or misunderstood, even by Catholics. When in 1994 JP II affirmed in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis that the Church had no authority whatsoever to ordain women to the priesthood he was simply reiterating what was always part of the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium ‘quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus’.

      • John Candido says:

        ‘A solemn declaration by the pope ex cathedra, or by a general Council constitute what is known as the ‘Extraordinary Magisterium’ and indeed there are only two such pronouncements. That does not mean that all doctrine apart from the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption is fallible.’ (John Nolan)

        Your confirmation that my original claim that there are only two infallible statements in the entire history of the Roman Catholic Church is true is gladly received by me. A ‘solemn declaration by the Pope ex cathedra’ is an exercise of Extraordinary Magisterium and therefore is to be acknowledged as infallible. The same infallibility can be acknowledged of the exercise of the Extraordinary Magisterium by an Ecumenical Council in conjunction with the Pope, if that were to ever occur in future.

        With regard to your subsequent point; namely, ‘that does not mean that all doctrine apart from the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption is fallible’. Of course not! I never said ‘that all doctrine apart from the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption is ‘fallible’’.

        Firstly, ‘all doctrine’ apart from the two infallible ones is clearly not infallible as they were not solemnly defined by any Pope, but they are not ‘fallible’ either. Secondly, ‘all doctrine’ apart from the two infallible declarations is part of the doctrine and teaching of the church that emanates from its Ordinary Magisterium.

        An Ecumenical Council, i.e. all of the world’s bishops gathered together to consider any theological or canonical questions and finally hold a vote on them after bishops consult their ‘periti’ (experts) and after speeches are given, debates are undertaken, and draft statements are presented, rewritten and finally agreed upon, is the church’s highest authority and includes the Pope who plays an integral part in it. Every Ecumenical Council will have the presence, voice and vote of the supreme Pontiff as a bishop in his own right, i.e. the presiding bishop of Rome.

        The only time when an Ecumenical Council can produce an infallible statement is when they have said that they are going to do so, and proceed with the literary formula or set of words that make their intended pronouncement clearly one that has been done, with the manifest intention of making it an infallible teaching.

        Every other time official teaching has been produced, such as a papal encyclical, or a synod’s or council’s statement of teaching, or a dogmatic constitution, or a specific instruction, declaration or exhortation, with either the Pope acting alone or in conjunction with any council or synod of bishops, the Ordinary Magisterium is at court. Logically therefore, Pope Paul VI’s ‘Humanae Vitae’ or Pope Francis’ ‘Laudato Si’, are not infallible teachings or fallible teachings, but are the authoritative teaching of the church that emanates from its Ordinary Magisterium.

      • John Candido says:

        I might sharpen what I said earlier about the church’s Ordinary Magisterium as distinct from its Extraordinary Magisterium i.e. the infallible faculty of the Supreme Pontiff. Pope Paul VI’s ‘Humanae Vitae’ or Pope Francis’ ‘Laudato Si’, are not infallible teachings, but are the authoritative teaching of the church that emanates from its Ordinary Magisterium. Any teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium as distinct from infallible pronouncements from the Pope, lends itself to be interpreted by theologians doing academic research in the light of evolving human development and advances in scientific knowledge, in an ever changing world.

      • milliganp says:

        There have only been two occasions when the charisma of Papal Infallibility has been exercised; however there are numerous statements by councils that added to the deposit of faith. Two examples are the definition that Mary was the mother of God at Ephesus and the formal declaration of the doctrine of Transubstantiation at the council of Trent.

      • overload says:

        It is an interesting thought that the two infallible declarations (Immaculate Conception and the assumption of Mary) are—apart from Transubstantiation and Papal infallibility itself—some of the most controversial ‘dogmas’, at least in the eyes of protestants (I’m not sure about Orthodox?). It would be interesting if these two doctrines are in truth infallible, yet require protestants to confirm to the RCC that they are indeed infallible, and to shed new light on what these dogmas really mean to our faith.
        Having said that, however, I think that Mary said to St. Faustina something along the lines of: “I am not here to promote the feast of the assumption, but to proclaim this day—the day of Christ’s Mercy—and warn you of the coming day of judgement.”

      • milliganp says:

        Overload, the Orthodox version of the Assumption is called “the dormition of the Theotokos (mother of God); the Orthodox honour Mary as much (but differently) as Catholics. There is no historic evidence of any cult around a grave of Mary which would be extraordinary if she had died and been buried.
        Protestants often argue that the dogmas on Mary lack biblical foundation and yet Luke records Mary’s words, inspired by the Holy Spirit “henceforth all ages will call me blessed”. The dogma of the Immaculate Conception still holds that Mary was saved by Christ.
        Many of the difficulties between Protestants and Catholics are rooted in historic differences and arguments which do not stand the test of time.
        Finally it is important to note that in the Catholic theology of Mary, Marian devotion always leads us to Christ. The most Marian devotion, the Rosary is a contemplation, through prayer of key events in the life of Christ and the Church.

      • overload says:

        Milliganp, thanks for your replies.

        Yes I agree about “henceforth all generations shall call me blessed”. However, consider that she says henceforth. We do not know from Scripture that she was blessed before this moment. So how can you tell a protestant that an angel came along when her parents made love and formed her without sin—even if this is or might be true, who told you this, and by what authority? I am sure you can answer my question, but I doubt you are going to get anywhere with a protestant on that one, and this might not be their fault.

        If you are interested here are my thoughts, from a Scriptural perspective…
        First one must understand the Church, and look to Abraham for the immaculate conception of the Church. It is within the body of the forming Church that Mary (and Jesus) can conceivably be conceived immaculately, not some magic trick by an Angel out of nothing (ie. out of sinfulness). Otherwise what was Israel for? Could not Mary (and Jesus) have just as well been born in Rome as Roman citizens? As for the ‘magic trick’, I think one must assume (unless can clearly indicate otherwise in Scripture), that such as Mary was conceived immaculately, she was immaculately conceived, with her Son, when Gabriel came to visit her at the annunciation. I need not make any fixed evaluation about whether or not she sinned before this… unless, that is, it is possible that her parents conceived her without sin and her parents and community carried and nurtured her without imposing sin upon her (protected her from sin). Hence I return to the integrity of Israel—God’s people—and to the Mosaic law, not to a ‘magic trick’.

    • St.Joseph says:

      We dont need much intelligence to understand the theology as to why a female can not be an Ordained Catholic priest.!

  33. Nektarios says:

    As we have read from the liberal, Humanist, secular camps, so much of their mistaken ideas.
    What makes real Christianity so different? We already know that becoming a Christian is primarily something that happens to us; we cannot make ourselves Christians. “The promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” In his letter Peter wrote, “… who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2: 9). This call of God comes to us through the Word of God applied by the Holy Spirit.

    Those versions of Christianity and the Church by the liberals, humanists and secularists, are all controlled by human beings who have decided to be religious and to live the religious life. But that religion is dead and mechanical; it is dull and filled with fear. True Christianity is charged with life and power and abandon because it is the action of God. It is the work of the Holy Spirit of God sent into the church in order to bring about God’s purposes in the world.
    God brings about change in us when we become Christians. But I want to show you that God does not merely produce a change in us with respect to our views of the Lord Jesus Christ. We see that the people in Acts realized the tragic mistake they had made about Jesus; but God does much more than that! The great God who made us at the beginning is re-forming us, doing something in us and upon us, making something of us. And what He does, of course, is to produce a complete change.

    • G.D. says:

      Apart from your first line and “But that religion is dead and mechanical; it is dull and filled with fear.” I agree with the majority of this post.

      And of course the ‘re-forming’ is ongoing for all of creation.
      “The promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” …… the O.T? Spoken to the Isreal?

      • Nektarios says:

        Yes initially it was spoken to the people of Israel, but now, since Christ’s finished work, the people of God includes any and all the Gentile world as well. How great is our God!

  34. Brendan says:

    ” We cannot make ourselves Christians . …God brings about change in us…” – Nektarios.
    Next Wednesday a member of our parish community has arranged through our Pastor , an open meeting in the parish hall , for our new M.P. to hear our views on the forthcoming ‘ assisted – suicide ‘ Bill to be read in Parliament next month.
    From Saint Paul down to Pope Francis and his calling of The Family Synod , The Lord is calling each and everyone of us to ” complete change” in the Spirit – ‘ metanoia ‘ – at His hands every day , to effectively demonstrate His Salvific work in us and His world….. which includes the eventual realisation that ” suffering and death .. brought into the world ” by humanity’s fall from grace will be no more.

    • Nektarios says:

      What those changes are, are also written about in the Holy Scripures. We are not left to guesswork.
      In the present climate many do not fully understand what Life, and life in Christ is or even there own personal life. Assisted suicide, without fully understanding what death is, is a dangerous route to go down.
      There is a lot going on in a person who is dying and the process is necessary. To cut short that process is not any benefit to the dying patient, in fact they might be doing a great dis-service to the person. Ushering a person into eternity before they are ready,
      they will not be able to tell you, and those who would have to administer the fatal dose
      will not have to give any account nor the Government who would if this Bill is passed sanction it.
      I wish you well at the meeting.

  35. John Nolan says:

    Were I pope for the day I would abolish national episcopal conferences and their attendant bureaucracies. The CBCEW has done little good and much harm. Ten years ago its influence over episcopal appointments was making it in effect a self-perpetuating oligarchy. The best example of subsidiarity in action in recent years was Summorum Pontificum which empowered individual priests and even laity. The worst example lay in the actions of local hierarchies in covering up clerical sex abuse. In the end Rome (in this case cardinal Ratzinger’s Holy Office) had to step in and clear up the mess, although it was given little credit for so doing.

    Regarding subsidiarity, most of the decisions that have an impact on our lives are indeed low-level ones. This is why aggrieved parties usually have the right of appeal to a higher authority. The importance of the Roman Curia in the High Middle Ages stems from the fact that it was bureaucratically more sophisticated and advanced than its local counterparts. If you wanted a relatively speedy decision in your particular case, an appeal to Rome was usually the best option. In a similar way and in a later age, prerogative courts like Star Chamber were popular with litigants. Did their abolition in the 17th century on ideological grounds serve the cause of justice? Arguably not.

    • milliganp says:

      I think Bishops Conferences probably fall into the same category as democracy as defined by Churchill, “The worst form of government other than all the alternatives”; they are an essential part of subsidiarity, Having replaced the staff of ICEL with those who would carry out Rome’s bidding on the new translation of the Missal, there were those in Rome still not happy and some amendments were proposed that only someone who doesn’t speak English would see as appropriate, fortunately some sanity prevailed.
      The Roman Missal of Paul VI was itself the work of the Roman Curia and this has been much criticized by the same people who would have Rome stamp on the Bishops Conferences.

  36. St.Joseph says:

    I would be very interested in peoples thought ‘If they were God for a day!!

  37. Martha says:

    I am rather surprised that no one has taken up my mention of pomp and splendour and the treasures of the Vatican. it seems to be a genuine stumbling block to many people.

  38. St.Joseph says:

    That is an interesting comment.
    However what would the Vatican do with them, they are( I think) mostly gifts from which have historical sentiments,
    You mentioned Pomp, I dont see so much of that ,however me may see some of that yet in Heaven with all the Majestic Mystical Vision and the Angels and Saints.
    As you said regarding Mary Magdalen pouring expensive ointment over Jesus’s Feet, He did say there will always be poor in the World, even if all the Vatican Treasures were sold, what would the church do with the money, there would always be Spiritual poor in the world.

  39. John Nolan says:

    Pomp and splendour? These are only despised by people who are materially well-off. The medieval peasant when he visited his cathedral or splendid parish church (to the splendour of which he had contributed) would not have despised it; indeed he would have been uplifted by it. In the 19th century Anglo-Catholic slum priests, who (unlike their confreres in comfortable Oxbridge colleges) actually got their hands dirty would erect magnificent churches and celebrate therein solemn liturgies which engaged the senses and did not simply address a wordy, worthy and educated audience.

    The worship of God has always demanded the best man can offer, in art, architecture and music. Not long ago a woman attended the Solemn Sunday Mass at the London Oratory. She was so upset by what she perceived to be pomp and splendour she approached one of the Fathers afterwards and berated him. He patiently pointed out that the vestments, which looked splendid from a distance, were over a century old and on closer inspection would be seen to be somewhat threadbare, and that the chalice, ciboria and cruets had been bought at a knock-down price in 1850 when Bavarian rococo was out of fashion.

    She was somewhat mollified and drove of in her car which one of the younger Fathers estimated to have cost eighty thousand pounds.

    • St.Joseph says:

      When my grandson goes away he always looks around at all the Cathedrals and Basilicas and brings me home beautiful Icons.and sends me photos on his phone.
      My daughter and younger family have gone to Tuscany and yesterday text me that she lit a candle for me in the Basilica Santa Maria Assunta in Montecantini.
      Why would any one deprive The Lord of the beauty through the gifts He gave to

    • Nektarios says:

      John Nolan
      Ah yes, that is mediocrity for you, worldliness for want of a better word.
      The world loves mediocrity in all its forms, but it should not be so in God’s people.
      The world runs to excess with accumulations of things, then thinks it strange when Christians don’t run to the same excess.

  40. Martha says:

    Of course I agree with St. Joseph and John Nolan in wanting to give the best to God in worship as many artists, architects, and musicians have done, often with splendid results as you describe. However, God looks first into our hearts, and it is possible that He will see more beauty in the simplest and poorest of gatherings provided with great love, than He may find in grand structures, and ceremonies sometimes provided by people over concerned to impress with their own importance and talent. The little chapel at the Cite Secours in Lourdes is a replica of the bergerie, the sheepfold, where St. Bernadette looked after her uncle’s sheep, very simple, plain, spiritual and reverent.

    Other aspects of the Church’s finances are less uplifting, for mediaeval peasants, or for people of the 21st century, affluent or starving.

    I think more effort needs to be made to explain the Church’s custodianship of masterpieces and treasures, especially those not directly involved in worship, as this presents a genuine difficulty for many good, sincere people of good will.

    The luxurious accoutrements and extravagant lifestyle of some Vatican clergy, and the banking and investment practices it is involved in, cannot be truly explained, and are most certainly in urgent need of change, they are a real scandal. Pope Francis, I believe, has appointed Cardinal Pell to supervise this undertaking, and it is imperative that he does not delay.

    • St.Joseph says:

      I thought all the problems with the Vatican Bank was sorted by Pope Benedict.
      I don’t know too much about that really.
      But you make a very good point.
      But I must admit I do like all the Granduer, Ceremony and ‘Lace’.
      Also I understand that is not the meaning of the Sacrifice of the Mass,But God is worth the little we can show Him in return when we wordhip.When we see what is happening around the world, the burning of Catholic Churches and killing christians. it is our Heritage.
      But I do understand what you say

      • Martha says:

        Thank you, St. Joseph.

      • overload says:

        I think it was St John Chrysostom who said something along the lines that it is not right before God to ‘adorn the chalice’ whilst there is poverty which is not being addressed.
        And it is also not right in the eyes of truth/justice seeking believers and unbelievers.
        When I first heard about Rome in the Renaissance (and the gangster Popes) watching an episode of a documentary called ‘the Eternal City’, I was reminded of a nightmare I had years earlier; I think the nightmare was about the Forum in Rome, although I didn’t already know what the Forum was or looked like when I had the dream.

  41. St.Joseph says:

    Just out of interest. a Poor Clares Convent for 150 years,sold by the Diocese a couple of years ago, is now a night club!! Where Holy Mass has been Celebrated ,and the Altar is still in the Club room.

  42. St.Joseph says:

    As I said earlier If I were’ Pope for a day’ which would be impossible however as a female.
    I would have a belief to express loudly what the Church teaches CCC 2334
    In creating ‘male and female’. God gives man and women an equal personal dignity.
    2335. Each of the two sexes is an image of the power and tenderness of God with equal dignity though in a different way. The union of man and women in marriage is a way of imitating in the flesh the Creator’s generosity and fecundity ‘Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh all generations proceed from this union.
    (I would make sure my Cardinals and Bishops and Priests and laity understood the meaning of that)
    Jesus also said ‘ You have heard that it was said ‘You shall not commit adultry ‘ But I say to you that every one that looks at a women lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
    So ‘if I were Pope for a day’, not only would I concentrate on divorced and remarried persons receiving Holy Communion’. but also to place more emphasis on what the ‘word’ adultery means, and not only on broken marriages which may not have been broken through their own fault, or not been in the right disposition, or been instructed to celebrate the Sacrament of Matrimony in the first place, but to concentrate in the future of the seriousness of the Sacrament and not so much on ‘the dress and the reception afterwards and where they will go on honeymoon!
    There are children involved here and second marriages ought not to be placed as it is alongside
    same sex marriages,as it seems to be when I read comments on other blogs!

    • milliganp says:

      St. Joseph, that’s a project I would sign up to.

      • overload says:

        Not to undermine what you St Joseph and Milliganp have said, however, with regards to adultery, the really serious problem is adulteration of our marriage with Christ

      • overload says:

        … marriage (baptism)

      • St.Joseph says:

        Baptism makes us childre of God!

      • overload says:

        St Joseph, yes sons of God, through marriage to Christ. We are his bride and we are married into his death and resurrection and ascension?

        Actually I question your idea of teaching about adultery. We need the gospel, the good news, otherwise such teaching is likely to be incomrehensible or guilt/fear mongering.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Read what Jesus said in scripture regarding adultry!! Without me saying it agin!

      • overload says:

        St Joseph,

        Wake up, we are the Church!

        Re. adultery, God says many things (ie. “wicked and adulterous generation!”). If you are limiting your usage to the conventional sense, then God intended it a certain way for man and women from the beginning, and He says: “not all people can accept this”, and, “let anyone accept this who can.” So if one can’t accept this (and one is being honest with oneself before God), then one does not have to accept this? We are not called to water down the natural law, but we are I understand called to be merciful and to suspend judgement where God allows it. And furthermore, especially in our days, who can accept Jesus’ teaching on divorce and remarriage without first hearing and accepting the gospel? I will tell you who: only those who’s ‘personality’ and circumstances in life permit it.

        And to reinforce my earlier point about the full meaning of ‘adultery’: God also talks of human marriage—Adam and Eve as one body—as a representation of Christ and His Church, not the other way round!

      • milliganp says:

        The theology of baptism is multi-dimensional. There is both Divine filiation, God sees and loves in us what he sees and loves in Christ but there is also the marital bond, the church as the bride of Christ. Both are part of the mystery of faith.

      • St.Joseph says:

        The Church is the’ Bride of Jesus Christ’,I was always brought up to believe.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Sorry I received a phone call so was half way between my comment, so I was not referring to you but to overload.

      • St.Joseph says:

        ‘WE’ are Church’ a little presumptious of you ‘I think’.
        We all need to examine our conscience first before we can proclaim that!

      • overload says:

        You mean I think that we all need to ask ourselves the question: “do I truly believe in Jesus Christ?”

      • St.Joseph says:

        We are all ‘part’of the one Body of Jesus Christ, however ,we must not be divided in Truth.The bad branches will be broken and wither before they destroy the whole. Pruning has to take place.
        The need to examine our conscience and receive the Sacrament of Confession is the renewal of our spirit.,Sometimes The Lord allows the weeds to grow, however they are not part of the fruit!

        There was and maybe still is an organisation calling them selves’We are Church’.
        they claimed to represent themselves as Womens Ordination and Women for a Changing Church
        So not let us confuse the meaning..

      • overload says:

        You mean Second Sight is not a cult claiming to be the One True Church… I agree.
        My point about we are the bride of Christ is not just that we are a small part of the Body of Christ, but that the Body of Christ is a part of us as individuals (even the fullness of our our own true body, such as we believe). So I, in some mysterious reality, such as I truly believe, contain the whole Church within my own body. I think this is difficult to grasp because in another sense we are each of us our own universe. But indicates something of how we are each of us, believing, is more important than we can imagine.
        Just my thoughts!

  43. John Nolan says:

    Martha, the artworks and treasures of the Vatican are part of Italy’s (and indeed Europe’s) cultural patrimony and the Vatican’s custodianship is delegated to it by the Italian state according to the agreements of 1929 and 1985. Neither the Pope nor the Vatican can dispose of them.

    Even selling them to the Italian state isn’t an option; apart from anything else their value is fixed at 1 euro per item.

    In 2013 John Allen Jr came up with some figures. The Vatican has an annual operating budget of $300m, which Allen contrasts with Harvard University’s $3.7bn. The Vatican has a patrimony (endowment) estimated at around $1bn, compared with Harvard’s $30.7bn. The Vatican Bank has assets of $6bn, but most of this isn’t the Vatican’s money. I agree it was in dire need of overhaul.

    Luxurious accoutrements and extravagant lifestyles? I think we need some evidence.

  44. John Candido says:

    I am doing a bit of research in reply to John Nolan’s question about an assumed canon by me that authorises, supports or maintains the rule of celibacy for all priests in the western rite Roman Catholic Church during the 12th century. I think he is probably right in a narrow legal sense, but I believe that I am not far off the mark either by discovering about a little known medieval Italian monk who became the most important canon lawyer in history. He is the Catholic Church’s ‘Father of Canon Law’. We know very little about him because he has been almost lost to history. His name is ‘Gratian’.

    Gratian was a monk but some research in 2012 suggests he was also a local Italian bishop later in life who taught theology at either a monastery in Bologna or the University of Bologna.


    He collated and reconciled over 4000 ecclesiastical legal decisions, from antiquity to the Second Lateran council, and placed them all in one book. In doing so he resolved a host of contemporary legal discrepancies and contradictions. His magnum opus became the dominant legal text from the 1140s and was studied in seminaries, monasteries and universities. The entire church delighted in the ‘Decretum of Gratian’ or ‘Decretum Gratiani’. It was also named the ‘Concordia discordantium canonum’ or the ‘Concordantia discordantium canonum’.

    The ‘Decretum’ became the legal foundation of the church’s canon law on top of which the church’s entire legal structure took root and developed. Before Gratian’s ‘Decretum Gratiani’ there was no systemic principles of legal interpretation or jurisprudence.

    The Decretum became an important source for the church’s first official Code of Canon Law which became known as the ‘Codex Iuris Canonici’ in 1917 and which was revised in 1983. The foundation of English and American law can be traced back to the church’s Code of Canon Law and further back to Gratian’s ‘Decretum Gratiani’.

    John Nolan you are probably our best translator of Latin on SecondSight and I would like to ask you a big favour. I don’t know how busy you are with your interests, but I was wondering if you could examine Gratian’s Decretum Gratiani which is only available in Latin as far as I am aware, and see if you can find any legal canons, directives, guides, or instructions that authorises, supports or maintains the rule of celibacy for all priests in the western rite Roman Catholic Church, during the 12th century?


    This is a German language site but you can alter it to English if you prefer. I have searched online for an English translation of the Decretum without any success. Does anyone know where I can get an English translation of the Decretum?

    To save you reading the entire text, limit it to ‘Part One: Distinctions XXI to CI (21 to 101)’, which relates to ecclesiastical persons and their function, and to ‘Part Two: which comprises of ‘36 Causes’ and is about ecclesiastical administration and the sacrament of marriage. Thank you.

  45. Iona says:

    Germaine Greer quoted one of her childhood teachers (a nun – religious sister, more correctly) as saying: “God doesn’t need great art; people do.”

    • St.Joseph says:

      Iona I would disagree with the Nun in as much as If God did’nt need us to acompany Him in the Garden of Eden and to fertilise and make it grow into now the 2oth century.( He would not have made us in the first place) He looks down on His Creation and said ‘that is Good.(He will see the good that He Created even through all the mess we have made and ‘say that is good,Come all you good and faithful servant and enter into my Kingdom..
      Jesus is Christ the King, His Feast Day 4 weeks before Christmas,He sits on the Throne on the right hand side of the Father.
      This Nun who ever she was had no Mystical insight of the Beatific Vision
      Eyes hath not seen nor ear hath heard the wonders that God has prepared for those that love Him.

      • Martha says:

        St. Joseph, Iona, and there’s me thinking what a good concise remark!

        To me it means that while God can appreciate the glories of His creation and the use mankind can make of it in producing great works of art with love and a desire to give Him homage, He does not actually need them or benefit from them in the way we do by having our minds and hearts uplifted to His greatness.

        Overload’s quote from St. John Chrysostom is also very interesting and relevant.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Yes I understand what you mean, But Jesus said ‘There will always be poor in the world, but you wont .always have me!
        The Catholic Church and christians do more than any one for the poor.
        The poor will be fed when mankind start behaving the way Our Lord made them to behave ,before they sinned and were sent out of the Garden of Eden.
        We can not take every thing away from God and give to the poor.
        We are here to take away from ourselves and give to the poor.
        I think there is a Psalm that says Our Lord takes delight in what we do for Him.
        He doesnt ‘need’ us to exist,but he does ”need’ us to make His death on Calvary worth it
        I dont know if that makes sense..

  46. John Nolan says:

    John Candido
    You need to distinguish between the Ordinary Magisterium (teaching of popes and bishops which are not infallible but require ‘religious submission of intellect and will’ and the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium (doctrine which is infallible and requires assent of faith).

    Clerical celibacy is a discipline which requires obedience but is not a doctrine; it can be relaxed in certain cases and could theoretically be changed. The reservation of the priesthood to men is a doctrine of the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium, commands assent and cannot be changed (see Ordinatio Sacerdotalis and the follow-up statement by the CDF).

    Canon Law requires obedience but is not immutable.

    It is obviously impossible for a doctrine or dogma to be both fallible and infallible.

  47. Nektarios says:

    As we shall soon move on from this topic (a very important one in my view), If one was Pope for the day what would we change? We have had an interesting discussion, but perceive we have changed or want changed really, little or nothing. So let me, if you will permit, pose some questions to you that would constitute real change, such change, that we are changed and live as lights in the world, true Christians!
    Are we living up to what the Holy Scriptures teach concerning what it means to be a Christian? Acts 2.
    How do we measure up to those first Christians after Pentecost?
    Have we separated from the world? Let me qualify for you what the Scriptures means by world. It means a mind along with humanity living without God.
    When will we see that there is no such thing as Church and State? One is of this world and the spirit of this world, and the other is not.
    Do we have the life of Christ in us, that is born again, or just a dull, lifeless and fearful religiosity? Have we got the real thing in our religion or just an imitation of the real thing which is worthless?
    How influenced are you by philosophy, theology of the liberal kind and Humanism posing as Christian faith?
    I could pose many more questions, but I hope this will suffice for now. If you are the Church, you are Christ’s. You are separated out of this world with a totally different end. How we answer these few questions above, will tell you in a measure where you stand, in Christ or not; merely religious or truly Chrisitian; Still in and of the spirit of this world, or separated from the spirit of it.

    • Brendan says:

      Well said Nektarios ! But always bearing in mind that as fallen creatures in need of constant forgiveness and grace ; that ‘accepting ‘ Christ in us we must live with this tension His Church ( the source of his perfection ) versus the World He created for us to live in. We cannot live as ivory castles. Re- St Paul Galations 20:2
      What the world sees is Christ livIing in us ( The Kingdom ) so we can live with crisis ( The World )

      • Nektarios says:

        If one is truly a Christian, it is firstly and formost the work of the Holy Spirit. No person makes oneself into a Christian.
        I agree with you that as Christian we all are in constant need of forgivenessand grace, but the difference is, a true Christian is more than just a fallen Creature, he is a new creation all together, not a patch-up job of what we once were when we lived in and had the spirit of this world, which is a mind and humanity that lives without God.
        I agree we cannot live in an ivory castle – `we are in the world but not of it’. so we have to walk carefully in this world. We are slowly being sanctified, made holy
        Your last point,Brendan, I wish it was truly so, even if it was not totally perfect yet, but alas, that is not what the world is seeing. It sees the Christian Church behaving so much like the world the live and the unconverted generally see the Church as irrelevant.

        What needs to change in the Church, more than its view on the Pope, more than its nit-picking about theological points, more than the heirachy, the clergy, their place and the place of laity, the place of men and women, is ourselves and begin if we have not really began yet, to truly live the Christian life.
        Then the world will take stock of it. they might not like it, they may laugh at you, scorn the Gospel you love, abuse you, hate you or even kill you, so what? We go to be with God with love and full of joy unspeakable, being made holy and walking before God as His Children. This world has a fearful future and eternity to look forward too.

    • St.Joseph says:

      I dont believe if we all put on sack cloth’s and sandles and walked from town to town preaching the Gospel like Jesus then His Apostles after Pentecost ( no women of course!!! they were at home washing the dishes!!) It would not convert anyone.Only end up having our Churches burnt down and christians beheaded.
      It is a country now of democracy, we were not able to stop the law on abortion, probably not on euthansia, nor prostitution, nor same sex marriage We live in the world but not of it and it is not all what you presume to see, God sees the good that christians do and look into our hearts..
      Do you think that is the answer. We are fighting Satan here Lest we forget that he does exist!

      • Brendan says:

        Well said St. Joseph…. ” shift the dust from your feet and move on … ” Matt. 10:4

      • St.Joseph says:

        Thank you, I looked up Matt 10, 4 but could not see the connection!

      • Nektarios says:

        St. Joseph
        We do indeed live in the modern world,( what a painful, sad miserable place it is for most),
        there is indeed no need to go around in sandals here in the West.
        Sorry to correct you, women were very much part of the early Christian Church and some like Tecla who also preached.
        We are indeed living in a world that is deceived by Satan, that is why truly being a Christin is to have Christ within, and ` greater is He that is within you, than he (Satan) that is in the world

      • St.Joseph says:

        Thank you.I was being a little (femenist) when I mentioned women doing the dishes, Just making a comment against male chauvenism.
        I think we dont live in Scriptural times now so our apostolic work relate with how we live today.
        Jesus said’ His Kingdom was not of this world’, and then He said ‘The Kingdom of God is close at hand’, which to me and I may be wrong, also again I take that as meaning when He rose from the dead He meant that He will be always with us inHis Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament, Also at His Resurrection, the Angel askedl His Apostles ‘Why are you still looking up.?
        Which brings me back to the beauty of Him on earth that we see in the Glory of where He presides Body Blood Soul and Divinity in every Tabernacle in the world which surrounds Him in the beauty of our Basilicas and Cathedrals, which we can share in His Kingship on earth.
        That is how I think. But that does not mean that we sit around idly and not building up His Kingdom on earth!

      • St.Joseph says:

        Correction to my comment 13th 1.pm. from ‘Resurrection’ to Ascension!

    • overload says:

      Nektarios, “We have had an interesting discussion, but perceive we have changed or want changed really, little or nothing.”
      By this I assume you are overlooking JC and Rahner’s comments. Are you also overlooking mine?
      For instance regarding my comment August 7, 2015 at 8:49 am…

      Just because I said of Christian Unity, “probably completely irresolvable” (on a formal/legal level), does this mean this it is completely irresolvable, and therefore the Pope has no responsibility to address this issue using all the means and authority at his disposal? And even if it is completely irresolvable (God knows if, or more likely to what extent this is true), the very act of really sincerely seeking/trying (inc. an opening up of heart and surrendering of self in Christ), and what such will say to both believers and unbelievers worldwide, may be of incalculable value. I do not think many people realise how serious a problem there is here. Was not the RCC in error when it condemned all other Christian churches as outright heretical (even though Cardinal Newman would have disagreed with me)? — yet if this was an error (of which I have some conviction), I think it was easier to manage both conscience wise and technically than the error we seem to have today which is a legal confusion and a deeply confused conscience (post VII) about the relationship and responsibility of the RCC with respect to the other churches—even if this is a necessary complication.

      And has anyone answered my other question about getting the matters of Scripture, faith and doctrine, out on the table, in the open? It is all very well talking about the CCC as either infallible or worthless, but to my mind it is neither, it is a grey area which really wants to be addressed (probably not rewritten but certainly corrected, amended and added to) with all Christians which the RCC recognises. Arrogance, self-centred self-assurance, or indifference, are self defeating.
      Or do you believe that it is the responsibility of the other churches to make peace with and submit to the RCC? Maybe so, if the RCC did not make this impossible. And forget not about the prophesies of Fatima (“do not despise prophesy but test everything”)—which I am afraid I have not read but only heard about—; was it not said that the RCC has the responsibility of reconciling/consecrating the Eastern Church?

      • Nektarios says:

        Several things here, overload.
        First – I am not overlooking JC or Rahner or your postings. I may disagree with JC and Rahner’s comments profusely. Their coments to me are like painted fire, never warmed anybody, in otherwords they have their roots in the world, but their views will not, and never have changed anything.

        It is an error to think that Christian Unity does not exist, it does. Ecclesiastic unity is only a religious unity. Real unity is spiritual in nature and all Christian believers enjoy that unity in Christ, for it is in Him alone does such unity exist.

      • overload says:

        Nektarios, I do not mean to say that Christian Unity does not exist, indeed it cannot but exist. The question is are we awake to this inherent oneness? You pose for us (presumably us who are open to this discussion) that we do not need to get ‘religious’ or political (nay, rather you suggest there is no place in true spirituality for getting political or religious), we simply need to consider whether or not we truly believe and live accordingly. I hope and pray that we can, at least in ourselves, be so simple. But what about those ‘believers’ and ‘unbelievers’ who cannot ask themselves this question?
        In my previous reply about formal Christian Unity and the CCC, I was not thinking about what is necessary for our sakes (us having this discussion). I am asking what is the responsibility of the Pope—as head of the RCC, and as the Bishop who believes himself supreme (or prime) amongst Christian Bishops—before God and mankind? You are not a RC, and you seem to think the RCC is purely a heretical structure, so perhaps you feel this is not your concern, however I believe I have responsibility before God to pray for the Pope (for the sake of the integrity of the Church taking the name of the Lord, and the poverty of all mankind in needing the Gospel—to be free to hear, free from outward obstruction and confusion—such as is God’s will) as according to what I believe the Lord has put into into my heart and mind. We have been called as sons and brethren, we have all been called as priest prophet and king, therein we have responsibility to one another, do we not, unless you sincerely believe the Pope—as Pope and/or Bishop of Rome—cannot possibly be your brother?

  48. Brendan says:

    Sorry, St. Joseph – Matthew. 10:14
    Paraphrase – Don’t worry about the world , it’s in his hands . Gods work is more important.

  49. Martha says:

    St. Joseph, no reply button under your comment just now, 12.28, but yes, it certainly makes a lot of sense, and is well worth taking to heart and reflecting upon. I believe that God has chosen to put Himself in need of our love.

  50. John Candido says:

    There are canons maintaining celibacy in the western rite Roman Catholic Church from the Council of Elvira in 304 AD. Canon 33 required that all bishops, presbyters, deacons and clerics were to abstain from their wives and not have any children. The council of Nicea in 325 AD which was convoked by Emperor Constantine reversed the previous ruling by rejecting a ban on priestly marriages.

    Early in the 11th century Pope Benedict VIII was appalled at the lack of morality exhibited by priests at the time and issued a rule stipulating that any children of priests are prohibited from inheriting property. Several decades later, Pope Gregory VII issued a decree forbidding clerical marriages. During the Second Lateran Council held in 1139 AD, a canon was approved forbidding the marriage of priests.

    If you define a ‘canon’ as a legal directive, or a rule, a decree, or an official pronouncement on an issue relevant to the church, then there are canons authorising, directing and maintaining celibacy for Catholic priests of the western rite, from several authentic sources. As the first officially approved code of canon laws, the ‘Codex Iuris Canonici’ was produced in 1917 and updated in 1983 under Pope John Paul II; there wasn’t an official ‘Code of Canon Law’ as such during the 12th century, except for canons that emanated from various popes, canons that had their origin in ecumenical councils, and canons in Gratian’s seminal legal text called ‘Decretum Gratiani’, which became available in the 1140s.

    Gratian produced a work of scholarship that required a rigorous examination of papal and conciliar decrees, encyclicals, canons, statements, directives, and decretals (papal letters), from antiquity to the 12th century. As his research examined and reconciled conflictual rulings from a staggering 4,000 cases, I am personally convinced that the ‘Decretum Gratiani’ whatever its shortcomings must have had a number of canons that reflected the church’s desire for celibate priests in the western Catholic Church. The Decretum would have reflected the church’s locus of attention on this issue throughout the 12th century and earlier.

    • St.Joseph says:

      John Candido.
      Thank you for that piece of history.
      I am not too sure what to make of it, does it mean that the Church ought to retain the celibacy Law for catholic males.

  51. John Candido says:

    Firstly I wrote,

    ‘Any Roman Catholic worth their salt would rather see that the Eucharist is easily distributed throughout the world through the mass, and that the world-wide shortage of celibate male Priests must make way for male and female priests who are free to marry. The contemporary availability of the Eucharist is infinitely more important than a 12th century canon.’

    Then John Nolan asked me,

    ‘What (or who) is the 12th century canon to whom you refer?’

    The short history about celibacy that I wrote is a reply to John Nolan who asked me reveal the 12th century canon that I said had behind the establishment of celibacy in the church.

  52. John Candido says:

    I am going to stick my neck out and say that I believe, suspect or have a feeling that Pope Francis will abolish clerical celibacy in a year or two. There is some speculation around March of this year alluding to this possibility. Have a glance at this link.


    The next link is about Francis’ thoughts on the ban on receiving the Eucharist if you have remarried without gaining an annulment. It is only ten days old.


    • St.Joseph says:

      John Candido.
      There is so much talk regarding re-married not receiving Ho;y Communion. with an annulment, People dont know their circumstances.
      Canon 1398..
      Says’ on abortion and abortifacients.
      Anyone who is complicat in that sin is an accomplice knowing that penalty applies to this and any other including abortifacients is automatically excommunicated!

      • St.Joseph says:

        Above my comment should say ‘without an annulment’
        so where is this sin mentioned as well as digging at those who are unfortunate to have a broken marriage, not through their own fault.
        It is not all black and white!
        JC we dont always agree but you do show mercy in some of your comments,
        I couldn;t finish my above comment comment I was going to Vespers then to my daughter and family for a BBQ.
        We disagree on female priests! etc.

      • St.Joseph says:

        So if a couple are taking any kind of abortfacient, how can their marriage be valid if they are excommunicated!

  53. John Nolan says:

    John Candido

    Clerical celibacy is a discipline which can be relaxed but cannot be ‘abolished’ unless you are suggesting that candidates for ordination must be required to be married. Cardinal Bergoglio is on the record as saying that priestly celibacy has served the Church well for many centuries. A wholesale relaxation would have to take a lot of factors into consideration, and since the Church cannot permit already ordained priests to marry, or to allow married priests to be bishops, it’s going to be problematic in any case.

    Francis’s thoughts and opinions are of no account since he is Pope. We all know that divorced and remarried Catholics receive Communion; we also know from Scripture that they are committing adultery; and therefore they are in a state of what is called ‘objective mortal sin’. This does not mean that they are automatically going to hell. However, the Church cannot contradict both Scripture and Tradition.

    So I’m afraid you are destined to stay outside the Church, wringing your hands over the fact that she is not, like the Protestant denominations, going to embrace the modern secular culture which you seem to admire so much. Christianity has often had to be counter-cultural; we are living in a new age of persecution which will not entail our being thrown to the lions but will, and already is happening, criminalize our stated opinions – all in the name of tolerance of course.

    You are an intelligent man. It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee.

    • overload says:

      John Nolan, “Francis’s thoughts and opinions are of no account since he is Pope.” What do you mean by this?

      JN said: “[the remarried] are committing adultery; and therefore they are in a state of what is called ‘objective mortal sin’.”
      So as I understand this, so much as they are sexually active, they are in a perpetual state of ‘objective mortal sin’?
      And what if the Church is wrong here?

      In Scripture Jesus promises “my yoke is easy and my burden is light” and “you will find rest for your souls”. (And yet the yoke of the Jews, which they could not bear, made some allowance for the reality of divorce and remarriage.) — I do not find that Jesus’ words about marriage & remarriage in Matt 19 speak against this promise, however RCC doctrine regarding the divorced and remarried seems to do just that, and to be a legal (mis)reading rather than a spiritual & heart-knowing reading of Jesus’ words.
      “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:6

      • John Nolan says:

        The Pope is sworn to uphold and pass on doctrine and to ‘confirm the brethren’, not to reinterpret it according to his own preferences. I don’t doubt that you are a sincere Protestant who believes that your personal interpretation of Scripture is as valid as anyone else’s. Catholics don’t believe that and never have.

        Since you are not obliged to accept the teaching of what you call the ‘RCC’ you are entitled to believe that the Church can be wrong and can have consistently misinterpreted Scripture. The so-called ‘reformers’ from Luther onwards made this argument and this led them to conclude that the Church was the whore of Babylon and the pope was Antichrist.

        Catholics, not surprisingly, have a different outlook.

      • overload says:

        JN “I don’t doubt that you are a sincere Protestant who believes that your personal interpretation of Scripture is as valid as anyone else’s. Catholics don’t believe that and never have.”

        (You are intentionally overlooking VII and personal conscience?)

        I am a Catholic.

        “these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11)

        My Catholicism began with Buddhism. The Buddha said to His disciples something along the lines: “don’t just believe me because I say so, try it for yourselves.”

        Catholic’s have I believe always been encouraged to both obedience and personal enquiry—and always obedience to God and the truth over and above obedience to the institutionalised Church. For instance, even St Ignatius of Loyola—who put such emphasis on obedience to the Pope & institutionalised Church—recognised that we are obedient to God first.

    • milliganp says:

      I remember a story of a comment attributed to Cardinal Ottaviani during the Second Vatican Council. I believe he had suggested that the council should condemn something and another Bishop pointed out that this was supposed to be a pastoral council to which he retorted “there is nothing as pastoral as condemning error!”

      • St.Joseph says:

        Abortion and abortfacients are a grave sin not just error.
        A great deal of difference to the breakdown of a marriage, one can not compare the two!.
        If anything the error is with the church, not giving proper instruction in thr first place.
        Perhaps Pope Francis understands that and is showing mercy for past mistakes
        There is a lot to be answered for!. Lack of instructions especially in schools..
        Where does the guilt really lie.
        God will know all this!!

      • John Candido says:

        Very amusing milliganp!

      • St.Joseph says:

        John Candido
        How can you find milliganp’s comment amusing?
        It is a serious subject we are speaking about, ‘there is nothing as pastoral as condeming error’ as he says.
        I mentioned above regarding those who are ‘excommunicated’ using abortafacients before marriage. It has been known since HV the teachings of the church, no excuse for ignorance on also on the part of the priest! The Pill is an abortifacients also the coil and Patches.
        How is the Sacrament of marriage they partake in ‘valid’ or an ‘impediment’
        Or re-married commiting adultry.

        Milliganp as a deacon who witness a marriage, I ask you that question?

      • St.Joseph says:

        Ps to above.
        ‘Especially as you say on Aug 10. 1.40pm ‘NFP although important, is not the sole doctrine of the Church.
        Perhaps you will tell me what is’ more’ important than’ mortal ‘sin’ through killing the unborn from conception. Which is ‘committed not through ignorance’!?
        It is 45 years ago since’ Humanae Vitae’, how long does it take?

      • milliganp says:

        Fistly St. Joseph you do not understand Cardinal Ottoviani’s use of the word error. Ottoviani would have considered the use of contraceptives an error in need of definitive condemnation but Pope Paul VI intervened directly and removed contraception form the remit of the Council.
        Secondly, in preparing couples for marriage I do what the church tells me to do (which is not co-terminus with your personal opinions). I act under the authority and discipline of a Metropolitan Archbishop who has appointed an Episcopal Vicar for marriage and family life and that Episcopal Vicar oversees marriage preparation on out Archdiocese in which I play my part.
        What is required of me is that every couple prepared for marriage is made aware of the Church’s teaching on contraception and family planning and the requirement for marriage to be open to life. I do this in part myself and in part using courses run by the Archdiocese and approved by our Archbishop.
        In summary, I do what the church tells me to do, would you expect me to do otherwise.

      • milliganp says:

        I’m not sure if I’m in the right column but there is automatic excommunication for simulating the Mass (we’re not talking about children playing); this is why so called ‘women priests’ are excommunicated. Certain offences against the Blessed Sacrament. An act of Schism, the illicit ordination of a Bishop.

  54. St.Joseph says:

    Also it is one of your duties as a married deacon to see that when you witness and give a blessing to a couple receiving the Sacrament of marriage which they adminster to each other.that theyreally understand the churches teaching, and there wont be an impediment, so that they do ‘really receive the Sacrament wordly.Also the priests duty too!

    • milliganp says:

      St. Francis, you don’t have any need (or indeed, authority) to add to the teachings of the church on the sacrament of marriage. Validity does not depend on the couple being “worthy” which is a very subjective interpretation.
      For the sake of those who read this blog and may be led astray by your posting those who use oral contraceptives are not covered by the latae sententiae excommunication for abortion to which you allude.

      • milliganp says:

        Sorry, St. Joseph

      • overload says:

        Apart from abortion and being a member of the mafia, what sins carry with them the burden of ‘excommunication’? Does pre-meditated murder per-se entail ‘excommunication’?

  55. John Nolan says:

    There is nothing in the documents of Vatican II that encourages the faithful to quote Scripture in order to refute the Church’s doctrine. Truth is not relative or subjective, nor is conscience the same as private opinion. Even Protestants accept this. Either the Catholic Church as constituted under the successor of Peter is that founded by OLJC, or she is not. Either the Holy Ghost preserves the Church from error, or He does not.

    • overload says:

      What is a member of the laity to do if (s)he believes there is an error in/with Church doctrine which is or might be a matter of conscience and not merely a matter of personal opinion?

      • John Nolan says:

        How does the individual know whether his dissent is a matter of conscience, or of personal opinion, or of prudential judgement relating to his own particular circumstances? I know of Catholic couples who use artificial contraception but who are in all other respects orthodox. They don’t justify their decision by claiming that the Church’s doctrine is ‘wrong’, or that their conscience trumps Church teaching; they simply accept that they are being disobedient (as most of us are in one respect or another).

      • overload says:

        “How does the individual know whether his dissent is a matter of conscience, or of personal opinion, or of prudential judgement relating to his own particular circumstances?”

        If one is confused about such a matter, then presumably one needs support and communication in the Church, so as to determine, clarify and seek to come to agreement in the Spirit in response to any such question. And whether confused or not, one may also need fellowship support to be able to effectively communicate with the clerical hiararchy, assuming agreement and confirmation from the Bishop/Pope on any such matter is necessary.
        For instance as I understand or imagine it, Paul knew that his commission was directly from Christ, and therein he had authority of doctrine. He did not require agreement from the Church to know this, however according to obedience, and for unity’s sake, and so as not to undermine the authority of the Church in Jerusalem, he recognised the need to submit his commission to Jerusalem and seek to establish by agreement. Yet, perhaps due to the difficulty of communication (distance and time etc.), he may often have had to take matters in his own hands when negotiating the doctrinal issues of the early gentile Churches.

      • milliganp says:

        Ultimately conscience is supreme but one still has a duty to listen attentively and with obedience to the church.

  56. St.Joseph says:

    I do wish you would understand the difference between contraception, abortion and abortifacients.
    Did you read Canon 1398, where it refers to anyone using abortafacients before marriage or after they are exommunicated from the Church
    So I asked how can a marriage be a sacrament when two people are excommunicated.
    I dont wish to know the circumstances you provide when witnessing a marriage, however being a part of the priesthood, a couple ought to be told the consequences and you do have to be responsible and make them aware when they take their vows.
    Otherwise they are in grave sin, and you are responsibe for their ignorance In fact a sin of ommission!. Now if this is wrong, check it out and and not give me a load of waffle.
    Killing a baby from conception by the means of abortifacients is a grave sin. Whether you know it or not, But God knows it! You should too being a deacon!!!
    Or perhaps the law has changed and I didnt know it!

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