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A plea to Archbishop-designate Stack: tell the people of Cardiff that you believe in Our Lady’s intercession

It’s urgent that he explains his speech to the General Synod

By on Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Archbishop-designate George Stack caused controversy by appearing to cast doubt over the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Photo: PA)

Archbishop-designate George Stack caused controversy by appearing to cast doubt over the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Photo: PA)

Bishop George Stack has been appointed Archbishop of Cardiff, to rumblings from certain quarters. The first thing to be said is that even if the rumblings do have substance, this might well turn out to be another occasion on which an auxiliary bishop from the Diocese of Westminster has been made an archbishop to accompanying doubts over his record, and grew successfully into his new ministry.

Before he is installed, however, Bishop Stack would be wise to do what he can to reassure the people of Cardiff (and the rest of us). There are two main issues, one more complicated than the other. The more complicated issue first, that of the controversy over the future of one of the best Catholic schools in the country, the Cardinal Vaughan School, in which the prime mover in recent years on the part of the Westminster diocese has been Bishop Stack. The complex case was succinctly and trenchantly summed up in his Telegraph blog by Damian Thompson:

The dispute over the Catholic ethos of the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School in West London has been simmering for the best part of 25 years now. To cut a long story short, it pits devout Catholic parents against Left-leaning Westminster diocesan bureaucrats who are sniffing round like detectives for any evidence of the ultimate crime, “selection”. But it’s not academic selection that the diocese is rooting out: it’s the school’s policy of giving preference to pupils whose families are demonstrably Catholic. Alas, the diocesan wreckers now have the upper hand.

The point here is how much responsibility did Bishop Stack have in so actively aiming this diocesan policy against the Cardinal Vaughan; and will he continue the same policy in Cardiff? What, come to think of it, is the existing policy for entrance to Catholic schools in Cardiff? Perhaps Bishop Stack won’t make any difference anyway.

So that brings us on to the next big rumble, potentially much more damaging, and therefore more necessary for the archbishop-designate to address squarely. The indictment is that he does not believe in the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and that (to add insult to injury) he declared as much to the General Synod of the Church of England. Or was he, in fact, simply talking about distortions of Catholic doctrine? If you want to, you can listen to the whole speech here; and I have to say that taken as a whole it sounds pretty reductionist to me, in the discredited ecumenical style which seeks to reassure non-Catholics that we don’t believe quite as much as they may think we do. But perhaps I am being unjust. Out of context, here are the words which have caused widespread controversy; and I think that before he goes to Cardiff, Bishop Stack would be wise to (as they say) “clarify” them:

The doctrines of the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary may sometimes seem to distort or misunderstand the role of Jesus as the unique mediator between God and the human race. An example of such a distortion would be the development of a theology which places her as an intercessor by the side of her Son.

Would be”? But the theology is already there, surely, firmly established in the spiritual life of every Catholic. “Pray for us sinners, now and in the hour of our death”: what does that mean? But perhaps Bishop Stack is talking about something else: perhaps he is saying that our Lord “mediates” between God and Man in a way that Mary can’t. Well, of course: Our Lord “mediates” by actually being both God and man. Mary mediates of course in a wholly different way. But she does mediate, and there’s no point in telling Anglicans that Catholics aren’t sure whether she does or not.

Bishop Stack quoted Pope John Paul as saying that her role needs more study, and it sounded to me as though he meant (maybe I’m wrong) that that indicated uncertainty on the late pope’s part; he also quoted Lumen Gentium with the same apparent intention. Well, here’s Pope John Paul (September 24 1997, during a General Audience): “The Christian people invoke Mary as Advocate, Helper, Benefactress and Mediatrix. She intercedes for us, defends and protects us; she assists us in our needs; she supports those who are falling; and she presents our prayers to Christ, pleading continually on our behalf.”

And here’s Lumen Gentium (§62):

[The] maternity of Mary in the order of grace began with the consent which she gave in faith at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, and lasts until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this salvific duty …. Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked by the Church under the titles of Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix, and Mediatrix.

It also has to be said, of course, as the next sentence makes clear (and as Bishop Stack would presumably claim in his defence) that this paragraph “neither takes away from nor adds anything to the dignity and efficaciousness of Christ the one Mediator”. But what we have to understand (and what the whole paragraph clearly intends us to understand) is that the expression “the one Mediator” is to be understood in a declarative and not in an exclusive sense: it doesn’t mean that nobody else mediates; it means that Christ mediates in a unique way. In Latin it’s “Quod tamen ita intelligitur, ut dignitati et efficacitati Christi unius Mediatoris nihil deroget, nihil superaddat”: “unius”, you notice, not “solus”, the only: the Protestant formulation is “the only mediator”: perhaps “unique” might have been a better translation.

To be fair, that’s the word Bishop Stack used; and all he has to do now is explain that when he said to the General Synod that Our Lady wasn’t “an intercessor by the side of her Son” all he meant was not in the same way as her son. Yes? Job done? Or did he actually mean what so many people accuse him of saying – was he in fact denying Our Lady’s intercession? I simply can’t believe that of a Catholic bishop. It’s a very important question: and for the sake of the people of Cardiff, I beg him to respond to it now. His silence will, I can tell him now, speak louder than any words; and it will be taken as meaning only one thing.

  • Ken Purdie

    Hopefully he will clear this matter up. I smiled when I read ” I simply can t believe that of a Catholic Bishop” MMNN.

  • Toby

    I believe he meant it in the sense that Mary intercedes for us, but in a different way to the unique intercession of her son.

    What I would question though is the mindset of most of the people who are complaining about this. I think they look for faults in what the Bishop is saying, hoping to have grounds to criticise. Why not take the construction in accordance with Church teaching (which is by no means a contrived construction) until there is evidence that it was made in another sense? The key words to me seem to be “may sometimes seem to distort” – put that in the context of an address to the Synod and I think they become quite reasonable. He is saying to people who in the main do not believe in the Marian declarations made under Papal Infaliibility that he understands how these can cause them difficulty as seeming to lessen the importance of Christ. And it is a fact that they do – that is they do “seem to lessen” if you do not understand them properly. The rest of his speech encourages them to study and reflect – no bad thing surely? – it does not say “they seem to and do”.

    How about giving him the benefit of the doubt? This is an area that requires thought and prayer from each of us – exactly how the intercession of the Saints and Mary in particular works is not easily intelligible to us and I do not wish to castigate the man for acknowledging this and being aware of the difficulties that it causes Anglicans.

  • Charles Martel

    I CAN believe that of a Catholic bishop, however much I’d rather not. However, these modern bishops are a remarkably slippery bunch and if challenged will usually immediately swear blind that they never meant to deny Catholic teaching, so we don’t know what they really believe. Giving the benefit of the doubt is a good idea, though one sometimes wonders why there is so much to doubt in the first place.

  • John of Norbury

    To deny Mary’s intercessory role is, clearly, quite wrong – indeed, heretical. There is, however, the title used by some ie. “Mediatrix of all graces”, that some would say goes too far – seemingly making Our Lord dependent on His Mother. Perhaps, Bishop Stack had this in mind?

  • Anonymous

    At one time the church had a large number of devotions to our Lady, many of which originated quite late in France, and which have now fallen out of fashion. They were not erroneous but they may have induced error in certain followers of these particular devotions and a lot of time was spent trying to prevent followers from being misled. Many protestants went to another extreme and having first reduced our lady to a rather strange abbreviation tended to stress in equal error that the BVM was some sort of empty vessel irrelevant to the scheme of salvation; indeed the whole holy family apart from our Saviour tended to be written out of the salvation story. Bishop Stack has no need to respond to Oddie or any of the other journalists who constantly criticise the Church’s choice of bishops and to allege heresy in its pastors.

  • Bernard

    “Some” might say it goes too far, but Leo XIII wouldn’t be among them. So we read in Iucunda Semper Expectatione about the movement from the Pater to the Ave in the Rosary:

    …having, with the elect petitions dictated by Our Divine Master, called upon the Father, from the throne of His Majesty we turn our prayerful voices to Mary. Thus is confirmed that law of merciful meditation of which We have spoken, and which St. Bernardine of Siena thus expresses: “Every grace granted to man has three degrees in order; for by God it is communicated to Christ, from Christ it passes to the Virgin, and from the Virgin it descends to us.”

  • Ratbag

    My bishop has called a year of devotion to Our Lady in our diocese. Bishop Stack should take a leaf out of his book… and if more bishops did, our church would be better off!

  • Anonymous

    We are commanded to Love our neighbour; and St Paul reminds us that is using every ordinary and extraordinary means to be ready to excuse [1Cor 13] until it becomes impossible; for then we deny Truth itself – the Person of Christ.

    Bishop Stack has left us little if no room for manoeuvre – there’s virtually no possibility [unless we resort to a 'bevanite' "emotional spasm" in the heat of the moment] for giving the benefit of the doubt – he said what he said – and the clarification demands a retraction of what he definitely said and a reiteration of the dogmatic position of the Church.

    I’m sorry to say this but it would be duplicitous not to recognise the euphemism ‘needs more study’ for what it is: A relativist, pragmatic and thoroughly misleading suggestion that the Marian doctrine is not clear – when it most certainly is!

    [This sort of mendacity is far from rare in the contemporary Church - one need only refer to +Vin's comments regarding women priests [implying the future may alter a case which the Church has declared is closed] or Opus Dei ‘moral’ theologian Fr Martin Rhonheimer [and Ivereigh etc] declaring the Church has not spoken on a proscription of the prophylactic intention in the use of condoms [it doesn't need to - as present teaching absolutely forbids it!] or when Archbishop Smith tells the House of Commons that Catholic teaching does not have any moral reservations with the Mental Capacity Act [it certainly does!] Or when Bishops Conference issues a document on palliative care stating that nutrition and hydration should NOT be considered as clinical treatment then proceeds to meander through a quagmire of obfuscation which ultimately suggests that the situation is not black and white therefore where necessary they CAN be considered as such – and therefore [euthanisingly] withdrawn [as it is in their sanctioned 'Liverpool Care Pathway] Or when our beloved Cardinal persistently referred to Anglican Orders as if they were valid!!! Or when Timmy Radcliffe preaches to a congregation of celibate and non-celibate homosexuals telling them ‘your love is not wrong’ and then later claims that he’s not referring to sexual acts – although that’s very far from what the audience is inferring! Or when ex-Herald writer Peter Stanford goes on Beyond Belief as a “Catholic commentator” and declares he has no problems with the notions of Jesus being sexually involved with Mary Magdalene – in fact he finds the idea quite appealing!]

    I defy any one of you to tell me you have never heard a Catholic in a position of authority either diminish, deride or dismiss the necessity of frequent confession – whether it be a southcoast Bishops’ ‘it’s only for serious sin’ or the odious Fr Richard McBrien’s pelagian proselytising that the efficacy of absolution is never complete and merely relative to the psychological state of the penitent!! And what do we teach our children – My catechetical resource material for my seven year old students in the US preparing for their first confession [imposed on me by the +Trautmann regime] mentioned sin only once – in a chapter title – “making a mistake is not a sin” – and the source of the forgiveness of sins? Our Redemption through the Crucifixion? It’s left to infer this by a single picture – a silhouette of a cross on calvary [with no commentary or explanation]

    It’s quite unfair to single out Bishop Stack – look at the whole of ARCIC – it’s an unmitigated sham – virtually every statement within the ‘joint declarations’ are so ill-defined that each side interprets them in
    their own particular way – to the point of being diametrically contrary positions! Both Catholicism and Anglicanism were being sold out by [albeit well-intentioned] intellectual scoundrels!

    The usual form of promoting heterodoxy invariably falls back on the following structure:

    1. The statement that – “Catholic teaching Y is grounded in reason X”
    [When it almost always isn't X - X is usually a minor exigent or a historico-cultural consideration or merely a secondary justification - the major reason for the Doctrine Y is definitely not X]

    2. But if we consider the arguments of anti-X – they do have some justification – there are some pertinent considerations we cannot dismiss by those of good intent who make appeals to anti-X and therefore adopt an anti-Y position [The people who argue for anti-Y invariably do NOT appeal to anti-X - but reality doesn't really matter - this is selling out of the faith here - it doesn't have to be logical, coherent or cogent]

    3. But it’s such a profound intellectual minefield which requires dialogue and scrutiny and ‘prayerful’ discernment [The old "requires future study and reflection" euphemism - indicating it's all open to debate when it most certainly isn't]

    4. And who knows what the future socio-cultural demands upon the Church might force it to reconsider such issues?

    5. But at present the Catholic teaching is this – and the Holy Father has said it’s because of X [The Pope andthe Magisterium haven't - but that's an irrelevance] and we must follow that teaching AT PRESENT – OUT OF LOYALTY AND OBEDIENCE – [i.e. not because it's real or true or irrefutable or incontrovertible - but because this is the present situation - and we're just doing as we're told until it changes]

    6 [this is the doozie!] But it is NOT a Catholic’s job to uncharitably denounce those who hold the anti Y
    and anti-X position – And if there are any who ever suggest that these people are not of good standing or are not in good-conscience – I suggest they should hold their tongues!!!

    Recognise it?
    You’ll find it everywhere – applied to virtually every aspect of the Faith – the cruel uncharitable insensitivity of the Orthodox – to be ill-mannered enough to suggest that someone might be in error! Oh- the humanity!

  • Guest

    “Abandoning the Mother is but one step from abandoning the Son.”
    Luke 1:46—55:
    And Mary said:
    My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; for He has looked with favor on His lowly servant From this day all generations shall call me Blessed. The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is His Name He has mercy on those who fear Him in every generation. He has shown the strength of His arm, He has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. He has come to the help of His servant Israel for He has remembered His promise of mercy, the promise He made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever. Amen

  • Anonymous

    Does not the appointment of Bishop Stack straight to an Archbishopric indicate the very strong influence of Cardinal Cormac on episcopal appointments now that he is in the Congregation of Bishops (or whatever it is called)? I find that more worrying than the appointment of Bishop Stack in itself.

    Bishop Stack was and is the Archbishop of Westminster’s appointee on the Board of Trustees of the Hospital of St John & St Elizabeth. Rumour has it that he ground his teeth and bit his lip out of obedience to Cardinal Cormac on more than one occasion and was firmly silenced on one occasion. I suspect Bishop Stack has now been rewarded by Cormac but let us hope that now that he got out from under his feet he may prove his own man. It won’t be the first time that an assistant Bishop from Westminster has come up trumps – vide Lancaster.

    But how far does obedience to one’s ecclesiastical superior go? I thought the Nuremberg trials rather put paid to the “I was only following orders” excuse.

  • Fr D.A. Davies

    It would not be the first time a Bishop has been misunderstood, misrepresented and by people intent on mischief

  • Anthony Ozimic

    I attended an ordination by Bishop Stack once. In his sermon he said obscurely that the new priest would “enter into holy communion with God’s people”. At the end of the ordination, the parish priest read out the Holy Father’s blessing on the new priest, which clearly referred to the priest’s vocation to offer up our Lord’s Sacrifice on Calvary through the Mass. Afterwards, commenting on Bp Stack’s sermon, one of my friends exclaimed: “At least the Holy Father understands the theology of the priesthood!”

  • Martin of Viterbo

    The story goes of an Irish funeral when someone was called upon to give a eulogy for the deceased. The eulogist merely said “Well all I can say is: his brother was worse”! I am sure there are many bishops about whom one could be [even] less than enthusiastic. I have two recollections about the archbishop-elect that I share. I sat next to George at Middlesex Guildhall Crown Court when a (now former) Westminster priest, William Hofton was sentenced. I was oblivious to the “pastor” in George. When my local MP told me in Sainsbury’s “Tony Blair has just joined your lot” I went home and turned on the box and there was George Stack giving an enthusiastic response to the news of Tony Blurr’s “conversion. I later ran into him on Victoria Street and gave him the benefit of my views which in his characteristic good humour he replied “is that the end of the party political broadcast”. The last couple of Nuncios were poodles who went native on touching down at Heathrow and I daresay the Church in England will be stuck with their prodigy for some time to come. I live in Italy so it is no longer my problem. I always thought the English hierarchy were pedestrian in the extreme. I do not understand enough Italian to know whether the Italian bishops are “better or worse” [as they ask at the opticians].

  • Anonymous

    Nor would it be the first time out of mischief that a Bishop was wilfully intending to be misunderstood and misrepresented.

  • Anonymous

    If Rochey gets Liverpool and Curry gets Leeds – then we can presume Cormac still holds too much influence; but Stacky? Too many independent variables…

  • Sean Wright

    Well have you actually asked him, written to him, sent him this article? He won’t know to do that unless you send him this article. There’s no guarantee he’ll read this just because it’s on the internet or in the paper…

  • RJ

    Could he not just mean that Our Lady is not equal to her Son?

  • jim

    This one sided article begs a number of questions.

    1. Why does William Oddie resent Bishop Stack?

    2. Surely a Catholic / Christian journalist would feel duty bound to express a sense of balance and extol some of Bishop Stack’s good points and virtues….as well as perceived reservations. Bishop Stack is a bishop of excellent standing , loved by the wider Catholic community. His appointment to Cardiff has been carefully vetted and judged worthy by conscientious Catholic authorities .

    3.Is William Oddie as an ex editor of The Catholic Herald expressing official Catholic Herald editorial policy and sentiments?

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    1. Where in the article does Mr Oddie show “resentment” of Bishop Stack? He just raises two queries.

    2. I suppose he could have said something on the lines of “Bishop Stack is a jolly good chap and loved by many” but frankly some might regard such as weasel words particularly as he may not know whether they are true or not.

    “His appointment to Cardiff has been carefully vetted and judged worthy by conscientious Catholic authorities “. The problem is that some of us are not sure as to what prospective Bishops in E&W are vetted for. I remember at the time of Vatican II a Canadian Bishop describing our hierarchy as mugwumps who sit on the fence on every issue. I do not know if that was true then but since then many of them have seemed to have fallen off on the wrong side.

    3. The answer to your third question is obvious and I expect there is a suitable disclaimer somewhere on the website.

  • Anonymous

    Oh Jim ! As we have no substantiated evidence regarding how much ‘in bed’ Bishop Stack was with +Vin in regard to the Vaughan – so let’s remove that consideration from the discussion – but rather address your aggrieved position:

    The irony from the first line: Indeed you are guilty of begging the question [petitio pricipii,hysteron posteroi]. As an enthymeme before point one you enter the propostition that Dr Oddie hates His Lordship.

    1. Complex question fallacy – you ask a why – loading the question before it’s even considered – this is on a par with ‘have you stopped beating your wife yet?’

    2. Orthodoxy isn’t either a dialectic [where variances from it in specific directions can cancel each other out] or something which can aquire a mitigating form of lieu-day accrued by being orthodox in certain areas for a lengthy time period; nor is it something which can be affected by the good or ill-nature of the proponent.

    a] Orthodoxy is not two wrongs making a right – e.g. Saying an EF mass every second Thursday does not cancel out the dodgy promotion of contraception.
    b] Nor can it be excused by the gathering of some Ecclesiastical version of greenshield stamps – Whether they have remained on the straight and narrow throughout their lives or they’ve been all over the place – it makes no difference to where they are now in their position. i.e. He’s been loyal to the Church for 40 years – surely he can be excused this minor wobble…?
    c] But he’s such a good man!? matters not one jot to the validity or veracity of the position
    d] But he’s so well-loved!? So it’s the affability of the messenger which decrees the worth of the message?

    3. Dr Oddie does not need to fall back upon any discretion by the CATHOLIC Herald editorial team – he’s merely exerciing his [indeed our all] expected duty of care to an Apostle – as commanded by the Church.
    We are morally obliged to address any potential ‘aberration’ out of due imperative concern for our neighbour in the office of Apostle. The Herald Editorial team need not have any qualms or reticence in permitting this question as it is one demanded by Holy Mother Church from every Catholic towards every other Catholic.

    If you question either Dr Oddie’s oitves or his right to actuate his present interrogation – you’ll have the billions within Churches Militant and Triumphant [who would all act in a similar if not congruent way] to deal with first….

  • Weary Convert

    I think that one needs to be a little blunt over devotions to, and claims about Mary. To the modern world, Marian devotions are often seen as updated versions of the ancient worship of a mother goddess and these claims can only be strengthened by the extravangances of such as St Bernadino even if supported by a more recent Pope. It is therefore reasonable, I suggest, if bishops feel that they need to underplay those extravagances which seem to have their justification in a view of the world, in fact, the universe. utterly alien to science and hence, wrong. Of course, there will always be those who wish to believe that a crowd at Fatima saw that the sun turned back on itself or that the so-called Holy House at Loretto was borne there by angels (via Dalmatia). But the reality is that these things cannot and thus did not happen and all the claims of saints and Popes to the contrary are just a distraction from making Christianity, and especially Catholicism, real to the modern world. I know that even the phrase “modern world” will raise the hackles of many who contribute to this forum but even if this move towards reality has caused many to leave the Church that others love, is it not better that the Church should try to be honest than be forever be held in thrall to often absurd superstition, whether ancient like Loretto, or modern, like Fatima? Mary’s place in the Church as the Mother of Jesus and an image of devotion for all is surely sufficient in itself and does not need to be surrounded by often bizarre and superstitious cults that circle around her like a cloud of whirling dervishes.

  • Pat

    But then you have a bishop known for his orthodoxy. Of how many of his now-confreres can that be said?

  • Anonymous

    Well said Father.We come to a point in this country when Bishop/Archbishop bashing becomes tiresome. When every comment they make is picked over, reported out of context and misrepresented by the very people who claim to love our church and are faithful to the magesterium.
    Can we not wait until the man has at least been installed before we put the traditional boot in? And as for Paul Priest…he lives a long way from Wales. Here in Cardiff we would like to keep an open mind! in Cardiff

  • Anonymous

    What tosh! Since when did you love your neighbour Paul? When did you post anything about a Bishop/Archbishop/Austin Iverleigh/Catholic Voices and others too numerous to mention in our church today who do not come up to your high standard, in the spirit of charity?
    You are pompous and arrogant and vicious.

  • W Oddie

    I absolutely do not resent Bishop Stack. I hope that he succeeds in Cardiff: and I am simply pointing out one thing he needs to do if that is to come to pass.

  • Anonymous

    I really do not know much about the Holy House at Loretto but I have studied Fatima as far as I am able – principally by reading the excellent “Documentacao Critica de Fatima” which so far has six volumes containing all the written and published statements and reports made at the time and up to about 1927 both for and against the veracity of the visions. My conclusion is that the evidence is sufficient to show that these visions did take place as did the miracle of the Sun.

    Weary Convert says “the reality is that these things cannot and thus did not happen”. I presume he is putting forward a theory that there are laws of science which prevent miracles, such as those at Fatima, ever taking place. It seems to me that if one believes that God created the Universe then surely He is able to suspend those supposed laws of science (if such exist). I would suggest further that whilst scientists have discovered and explained many things there are still great mysteries remaining which suggest to me that anything can happen! Try reading Roger Penrose’s “The Road to Reality” to get a feel for where science is.

    On the subject of rational explanations for Fatima I particularly like the suggestion by the Portuguese Rationalist Association that the whole thing was a plot by the Jesuits who coached the three children “in exactly the same way as the Jesuits had earlier coached Joan of Arc”.

    In fact the record shows only one Jesuit being around at the time who was the editor of a Catholic newspaper and was extremely sceptical of the reports.

  • Bwaj

    Nonsense. Devotion to Our Lady goes back to the first century AD.

  • Bwaj

    Even the iconoclasts in AD754 declared anathema those who refused to honour Our Lady and the Saints, they also declared anathema anyone who denied the efficacy of their intercession of Our Lady and the Saints or who refused to invoke their intercession. This same statement is upheld in II Nicaea (AD787), the Council of Trent (Session 25), Vatican Council 1 (Session 2 AD1870) and in ‘Sacrosanctum Concilium’ & ‘Lumen Gentium’ in Vatican Council II. The ‘Synod of Jerusalem’ (AD1672) also holds to the Catholic teaching on the invocation of Saints as do Anglo-Catholics.

  • Bwaj

    As for claims about French devotions etc.,. connected to Our Lady. The Immaculate Conception is Scriptural and secondly, even Martin Luther believed it.

  • Bwaj

    On the contrary – these things did happen and perhaps you shouldn’t be a Catholic if you are attacking Our Lady. Anyone who attacks her is the Devil’s friend. Even the Protestant Reformers, including Luther and Calvin, accepted Marian devotion. Russian communism fell because Pope JPII consecrated that country to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

  • Anonymous

    Of course. Read more carefully.

  • R Collinsassoc

    Archbishop Designate George Stack could show his regard for the intercessionary powers of Our Lady by leading a pilgrimage to the Welsh National Shrine of Our Lady of the Taper…….and celebrating a TL Mass.

  • Weary Convert

    Oh dear, why does this person claim that I am attacking Mary? I have already said that Mary’s place in the Church as the Mother of Jesus and an image of devotion for all is surely sufficient in itself. As to Fatima, I’ve no wish to get into an argument on an issue of which I willingly confess I know little except the general principle that seems to me, and doubtless numerous others, unlikely. But I do seem to recall that Pius XII was said to have carried out the required consecration in 1952 making one wonder why it was necessary for John Paul II to do the same about 30 years later. Are we really expected to believe that a certain specific form of words and actions was required to make one or the other valid, and hence free the world from a terrible tyranny If so, I fear such an approach can only reduce the concept of God to that of a supernatural civil servant, requiring the correct boxes to be ticked before action can be taken. This comes into the same category as those who claim wars, plagues and natural disasters etc. (note perhaps the word “natural”) are God’s punishments on the world fro whatever piece of nastiness is curent or fashionable – a piece of wicked nonsense that nobody with sense could attributed to a loving God. Also, and again I know little of the details, I thought the Fatima promise was that Russia would be “converted.” Since the fall of the Soviet empire, the Russian Orthodox rather than the Roman Catholic church has become much more popular there and its followers increased but nevertheless the Russia of Putin and his ex-KGB friends is hardly something to encourage belief in the success of the Fatima visions. Fatima does give rise to the oft repeated question mark over alleged miracles – why does God not make a better job of them? Why, for example, was the “dancing sun” of Fatima not absolutely clear and seen in exactly the same way by everyone looking at it?

    But moving on, to the comments of Mr Bellord (below), taking the incredible size and complexity of the universe and our tiny place in it, if God is going to suspend the laws of that universe (e.g. a dancing sun might otherwise have made us all fall off), I ask again, why not make a proper job of it? He mentions the delightful suggestion of peasant children being briefed by the wicked Jesuits (who instructed me ages ago). Perhaps more likely in an increasingly secular world is the suggestion that miracles do indeed exist but take place for the amusement of all-powerful aliens with a sick sense of humour. Ridiculous, I know, but to the secular minds and upbringing of so many today, even the most outlandish tales of alien abductions and the like (why are they always somehow sexual?), reflect at least the infinitessimal possibility that such things might happen in the real universe without the need for a supernatural underpinning. I fear that some of the contributors to this forum will now deliberately pretend that what I have said indicates that I believe in such rubbish to give themselves the warm glow of feeling that they are dealing with an idiot: but there we are, perhaps they are right. In my view there is enough in the teachings of Jesus and the general decency of the lives of his followers in the Church, for people to live a Christian life without having to confuse matters by unnecessary claims of miraculous occurances and interventions.

  • Weary Convert

    Thank you for commenting and I shall have a go at tracking down what Penrose has said. Otherwise, perhaps you might look at my response above to “Bwaj.”

  • Weary Convert

    Mr Bellord, I have just read reviews of the Penrose book – help!!

  • Ratbag

    I dread to think, Pat!

    Indeed, my diocese is truly blessed. There is a different, stable and more holy atmosphere now which has entered the diocese since our bishop took his cathedra.

    However, recent predacessors in my diocese were nice men but pretty average in the orthodox stakes. One was rumoured to have been nicknamed ‘Bishop Pickford’s’ because he had a habit of moving priests around the diocese like a game of musical chairs!

    All we can do, Pat, is pray hard to the Holy Spirit, Our Lady, Saint Joseph and Saint Michael the Archangel for our Holy Father and our Bishops.

  • Anonymous

    Tiresome Scarpa?
    Dear Lady: Bishop Stack has an Apostolic mandate to teach the Catholic Faith – not ‘let’s not offend the Anglicans by defending Marian Dogma’ Faith…

    I challenge you to provide any evidence that Bishop Stack has been misrepresented.

    Misrepresentation is the main strategy of other ‘professional catholics’; it’s certainly not one to which II resort.

    Plus there seems to be a little confusion over your present location: Look out your window Ma’am: That’s not Cardiff – That’s C*******!!! Isn’t it?

  • Anonymous

    The point I wanted to make was that there is no general principle that prevents miracles happening. If there was such a general principle how does one account for the Resurrection of Our Lord? If Our Lord and his Apostles were able to perform miracles then surely there is no general principle that prevents them. The question surely then is whether a particular occurrence is a miracle or not. Generally you have to assess the testimony of those who saw them. Further one has to consider what more natural explanation there might have been such as somebody putting the children up to telling a load of lies. Having read as much as I can I believe what they said.

    As to punishments by God my view is that the general message coming from Fatima was that if men did not mend their ways terrible things such as wars and persecutions would result. If terrible things happen as a result of men’s sins is it entirely wrong – wicked nonsense? – to see them as God’s punishment? I do not think there is any mention of natural disasters. Our Lady asks us to pray so that such things do not happen and recommended particular devotion to her Sacred Heart. Surely we believe in the efficacy of prayer so why should such exhortations not be regarded as sensible? As to the conversion of Russia perhaps our prayers have only been partially successful?

    Unfortunately such events get embroidered and we get the kind of pernickety criticisms that the dedication of Russia has still not been done properly – a criticism which perhaps prompted JPII to renew the earlier dedication. But is conversion to the Russian Orthodox faith any less valid than conversion to the Roman Church? As to making “a proper job of it” perhaps that is up to the people involved rather than God who allows us free will!

    I am not quite sure what “Weary Convert” means by ‘Why, for example, was the “dancing sun” of Fatima not absolutely clear and seen in exactly the same way by everyone looking at it?’ The testimonies of those present seem pretty consistent as to what they saw. Incidentally if the sun had physically danced we would not have fallen off – we are held on by gravity which would not have been affected. However is it not possible to believe that the tens of thousands who witnessed it were given a vision of a dancing sun rather than the sun physically dancing?

    Turning to Roger Penrose, whom I believe to be an atheist, his book on “Reality” explores the mathematical models upon which theories about the nature of the Universe are based – string theories, twistors, multiverses and the like. He starts with complex numbers i.e. using the square root of minus one and goes on from there. What I like about him is that he has a healthy scepticism about the whole subject and is respectful of religious views. He hopes that Science can one day explain more but tells us we are a long way off. Now consider; should we believe in theories based upon the square root of minus one which provably does not exist (but is useful to imagine that it does) any more than believing in a religion that assumes the existence of God which some claim can be proved but most of us would find the formal proofs somewhat difficult to grasp and it is certainly not possible to disprove his existence. The greatest enemy of religion is “scientism” – the belief that science will come up with all the answers.

    By the way if the Jesuits (founded by St Ignatius – 1491 to 1556) had coached St Joan of Arc (died 1431) that would truly have been a miracle. I am surprised that it was the only explanation that the Rationalists could come up with at the time other than demonstrating and throwing a bomb.

  • Weary Convert

    Mr Bellord – Many thanks for your thoughtful reply. There is much to consider here and I shall do so.

    As to St Joan – a person for whom I have the utmost admiration – lest your readers think otherwise, it was not me who raised the claim of Jesuitical coaching. I agree that the Portugese rationalists and assassins who could murder the poor King and his heir, are exactly the sort of people who would make up lies about the children of Fatima, whose sincerity I would never doubt, although I do doubt the physical reality of their claims and wonder if the later revelations to Lucia seem to have been a little too convenient.

    Thank you again.

  • Fryrchris

    Bishop Stack,

    Please do respond to this question. I am Hebrew Catholic and my understanding is that in Jewish tradition as well, the Mother of the King was the best advocate, and intercessor, as she had the ear of and the heart of the King, her son. So, indeed how much more so, in the spiritual life should this be so by simple childlike reasoning; which is probably the best to use in these circumstances. Peace to you.