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Should priests be firmer with non-practising Catholics?

Priests vary on how they respond to requests for baptisms or church weddings from Catholics who do not go to Mass

By on Monday, 12 December 2011

Archbishop Martin says that cultural Catholics should have the maturity to leave the Church altogether if they do not believe in it (Photo: CNS)

Archbishop Martin says that cultural Catholics should have the maturity to leave the Church altogether if they do not believe in it (Photo: CNS)

A friend has pointed me to an article by Lynne Kelleher in the Irish Independent, which was taken up by an American blogger calling himself The Deacon’s Bench. The article quoted Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin as suggesting that Ireland’s lapsed Catholics should have the maturity to leave the Church. In an obvious reference to “cultural Catholics” who eg want to be married in a church and have their children baptised for purely social reasons, the archbishop is alleged to have said: “It requires maturity on those people who want their children to become members of the Church community and maturity on those people who say ‘I don’t believe in God. I really shouldn’t be hanging on to the vestiges of faith when I don’t really believe in it.’”

He was followed by Fr Michael Drumm from the Catholic Schools Partnership who said that the Church in Ireland would be firmer in future with parents wanting to have their children baptised as Catholics.

The blog led to some interesting comments in the posts that followed: a fellow US Catholic deacon stated that “in a few cases I’ve refused to marry a couple or baptise an infant until the adults involved demonstrated that their faith would be meaningful and practised”. Yet another deacon related that he was asked by his parish priest to baptise the baby of a non-churchgoing, unmarried mother and also give her instruction – and that she did come to Mass sometimes afterwards.

Generally the responses were evenly divided between those who agreed (cautiously) with Archbishop Martin and who felt that if it were known that the family did not intend to raise their child as a Catholic, baptism should be delayed until their attitude had changed; and those who felt this attitude lacked compassion: lost or wavering sheep should be welcomed and supported, not shunned. (Inevitably, a few posts said the Irish Church was in no position to preach to anyone, given her recent history etc).

I am never sure which way to jump in this debate – and priestly responses vary. One priest I know always baptises on request with no questions asked, believing he should give non-practising parents the benefit of the doubt; yet another used to firmly insist on attendance at sessions of instruction beforehand, as a way of showing parental commitment. I also recall an elderly priest, on the occasion of a First Communion family jamboree, telling me with sadness that he did not expect to see the parents or child again in the church – and he was proved right.

If I were a priest I would want to point out that baptism shouldn’t be done just to please the grandparents; that First Communion is more than an occasion to buy an expensive dress for family photographs; and that a church wedding shouldn’t be requested in order to have a tasteful backdrop. But what if this puts off the enquirers from coming to church again? Is mercy rather than justice required here?

  • Peasqueira

    And who are you, to tell anyone what to do? Surprise me.

  • geoffreysmith1

    Perhaps, instead of the bullshit, you would be good enough to answer Dissenter’s question?

  • Pesqueira

    Oh and I do believe you tell people to do as you do, but I donot believe it as innocent as you portray. Shame them!

  • geoffreysmith1

    “The Church in France took a hard line over forty years ago and the churches are absolutely devoid of people.”

    The French have been deluded by the same dream of an earthly Utopia as the British and most other Europeans.  They practise contraception and abortion to the point where, as a nation, they are now faced with extinction.
    Whether a French child of non-practising parents should be baptised or not is irrelevant to the most important point: there won’t be any French children to baptise in the foreseeable future as the nation becomes progressively geriatric and enfeebled by its sterility. 

  • Jackie

    It’s interesting that the archbishop requests that non practising catholics formally leave the church when they closed down the only formal way they could do so a just over a year ago!! The church it seems modified the code of canon law to remove all references to the act of formal defection. I wonder if one reason for this is because of the increasing number of people defecting having a detrimental effect on the churches ability to impact on the world stage, as its membership decreases so does its influence.

  • Mikethelionheart

    Nmartin

    Great post. Thanks for that.
    the situation is just as bad, or probably worse, in the UK.
    I am doing supply in a Catholic school at the moment. Of the 4 other RE teachers here, 1 is non-Catholic (and should not have been given the job), 2 are non-practising Catholics (as are probably most RE teachers in Catholic schools) and the other is an actual, real live Catholic, shock horror.

    I’ve met too many Catholic school head-teachers who don’t give a damn about the Catholicity of their school. They are only interested in their own careers and pay lip service to the Catholic ethos.

    One more point Nmartin, it’s Maths, not Math. You don’t say Physic instead of Physics do you?  ;)

  • Kat in America

    Does the Church still teach that Baptism removes the stain of Original Sin? If it does, then infants should not be denied it, no matter how reprobate the parents appear to be. If it is something else, then maybe the Church should demand that everybody wait until the age of reason to make a decision. But as far as I know, the Church has not officially denied its traditional teaching. It does trust the unbaptized to God’s mercy, and there is the “Baptism of Desire.” But to consign the unbaptized to the “Baptism of Desire” seems a greater act of presumption than that committed by parents who seem to think that Baptism is some pleasant traditional superstition that precedes a party. We never know what’s going on in the hearts of those who sometimes appear clueless and brash to us. This is an opportunity to reach out and educate.

  • David Devinish

    You are clearly a good catholic; pedantic and petty, I bet you never made a mistake in your life. You would be a bundle of fun on a night out. Even teetotallers would take to drink. Please check my spelling and syntax, and do not hesitate to correct me if I am in the slightest way erroneous, because I was born imperfect.

  • Esurio

    *But what if this puts off the enquirers from coming to church again? Is mercy rather than justice required here?*

    It would be MORE merciful to with hold sacraments rather than to have someone’s soul in jeopardy by abusing a sacrament.

    I’ve only read through some of the comments pro & con. My opinion is; if the clergy doesn’t believe in the sacredness, holiness and beauty of the sacraments then why do they expect the people to value them? What is happening  reminds me of the handing out of indulgences; the result was they became worthless in the eyes of the people and today people tell jokes about them.  Only the clergy can stop this abuse.

  • Jeannine

    I agree w/your points. Yet, I lean towards baptizing any child whose parent asks for it. My attitude is Baptism is efficacious. It wipes away Original Sin (an impediment for entrance into Heaven if the child were to die before having it removed) & implants the gifts of the Holy Spirit on the individual being baptized. The seeds are planted & hopefully someday they will sprout. 

    On the other hand if there is no history of the parents practicing their faith, I don’t believe the child should receive any more of the sacraments until he is old enough to decide for himself & make an effort to follow the Catholic faith.

  • romancatholic

    where in the bible does it say bible?

  • Beenthere

    Instead of turning cold or lukewarm Catholics away, or simply giving them “instruction”, they should be evangelized. If they or a family member want to receive a sacrament, all concerned or involved should be required to attend an evangelizing retreat put on by the parish for such purposes.  Of course the periodically scheduled evangelizing retreat should not be limited to them but open to all who wish to attend.  That was the practice of one priest whose parish grew from under 500 to over 5000 families in the mid 80′s when we joined.  The priest has now passed on but the parish is still vibrant even though the new pastor doesn’t have the same policy.
     Perhaps part of the problem is that today Catholics are catechized without ever being evangelized.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pater.scotus Scott Settimo

    I have never yet denied a child’s baptism, despite the fact that the majority of requesting parents at my parish have been either in irregular situations or not apparently faithful to assisting at Sunday Mass; this, because I do not want to penalize the child. HOWEVER, in these situations I require that the parents meet with me first. I explain to them that (according to the Rite) they are “accepting the responsibility of training [the child] in the faith,” and this this includes assisting at Sunday Mass and living according to God’s commands. In cases of cohabitating couples, and trying to be clear about Church teaching as well as gentle, I invite them, for the sake of the child and so as to enjoy the fullness of communion with Christ’s Church, to consider reforming their situation through the Sacrament of Penance and moving toward Catholic marriage.

    Is this the best approach? Lord only knows.

  • elleblue

    I am sick and tired of some adults who treat the Sacraments like magic or some superstitious nonsense. I feel the Church and its bishops and priests should crack down on non-practicing Catholics. It’s a privledge to be Catholic with rights & RESPONSIBILITIES.

  • https://openid.org/locutus LocutusOP

    Can one have faith without believing?

    Faith is belief in God and a willingness to do his will (I would argue). I suppose the baptism rite could use the words “Do  you have faith in God and the Catholic church?”…But it wouldn’t really change the issue at hand, namely that you still have to say “yes” and if you can’t you should refrain from baptism.

  • Dave Corrigan

    You are so right, how dare a three day old baby be baptised with out having good sound knowledge of catechism. It would also help if the baby had a Ph.D., and had written it’s first symphony.

  • geoffreysmith1

    I quote:

    “Isn’t it wrong to baptize a baby? After all, they don’t even know what baptism is.

    Answer:
    On the contrary, it would be the best thing you could do for a baby. Baptism is a grace from God, not something we do for God. Grace does not
    depend on our intellectual achievements any more than it depends on any
    other human achievement. This is one of the many ironies inherent in
    opposition to the ancient Christian practice of infant baptism. To
    refuse baptism to a baby on the grounds that “the child isn’t able to
    understand what is happening” is to presume that God gives grace only to
    those who are smart or old enough to figure out how to get it. This is
    an implicit assumption of salvation by intellectual works specifically
    condemned by Scripture and Catholic teaching.”
        (www.catholic.com)

  • Jason Clifford

    Infant baptism is not the norm of the Church. It is allowed only on the understanding that the child is to be raised in the faith of his or her parents. If those parents do not have such a faith what is the baptism?

    At the same time however the fact of baptism is the act of God and the grace that He gives. It is certainly a moment, as is first Holy Communion, Marriage and a funeral to proclaim the Kerygma – the Word of God announcing His love and mercy – which is effective. As sacred scripture says, “My Word does not leave my mouth and return without accomplishing what it was sent to do”.

    Priests should be firm but always with mercy. How are those who do not practice the Catholic faith to know what baptism is and why they need to live their faith if they are not told?

    Jesus was always merciful but also always fully in the truth with those he called to change their lives.

  • James

    I was baptized & confirmed, yet I did not understand the faith. As an adult outsider, I chose the Catholic Church through the RCIA program. I am glad I had those early sacraments to prepare me for the best decision of my life.
     
    Remember, we are all at different places in our walk. We all have different gifts, and not all are as advanced in our faith. Further, the secular world is clawing at our souls every minute. Jesus longed to put Jerusalem under his wing as a hen would her chickens — yes, even the sinful and lukewarm of Jerusalem. Do not be too harsh in your judgments. Let God be the one who separates wheat from chaff.
     
    Our prayer can be that others will know the patience of God by the way we treat them. And we must also pray the Holy Spirit will pour out the gift of faith on these non-believers who have been the focus of these discussions… indeed on all of us.

  • regina4u

    Augustine,was he not a love child born out of wedlock? Was his mother not a barmaid who had a love affair?Was not the virgin Mary pregnant “to be found with child” that Joseph wished to put her away quietly? Oh please ,the very ones that want to judge shall be the very souls  found wanting. GOD,takes us out of sin to be made pure in the blood of the lamb. through the church we find salvation ,the Eucharist,our God and savior JESUS THE CHRIST open the doors wide. Those who are fist shall be last why jealous thats why it is a form of vanity 

  • regina4u

    We are all on a spiritual journey ! We as Christians should be a positive force an example in love of our Lord Jesus Christ. this way when the souls are found in need or better yet when GOD calls us through space and time we know where to go and what to do. The Catholic church is my home they will say to their selves and that is where they will go.   

  • Jeannine

    What would you do if the same parents are still cohabitating & they don’t go to Mass, do you let their child receives instruction for 1st Reconciliation, & 1st Holy Communion? What about if the child’s legal parents are homosexual? Just curious because these situations are or will be occurring alot in the future (& I don’t think the bishops have been thinking much over this).

  • regina4u

    The word catholic means universal and it  is a greek word or let me put it this way “THE CHURCH”

  • regina4u

    The word bible again a Greek word means scroll.

  • Angela

    If I were a priest I would baptize a child and pray for the Holy Spirit to sort out the rest.My mother did not want me to be baptized but her brother,God bless him,took me up to the nearest church and asked the priest, who did baptize me.Mother then sent me to an Anglican school so that I would not be a practising Catholic .I had to walk home past the Catholic school and the nuns puzzled me hugely by asking when I was going to join them.When I was a student I met practising  Catholics of my own age and felt there was something special about them that I wanted to share and I was received into the Church.And here I am 57 years later still trying to live up to my faith and realizing increasingly how important a simple reliance on the mercy and gracious warmth of God is.

  • regina4u

    This reminds me that the Amen has 6 different meanings …SO BE IT ,LET IT BE ,IT IS SO,I PETITION,HEAR ME, LET IT BE  now the apostles were breathed upon by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and thru this Priests were given this blessing all the down to where we are in time but  question weather to pass this blessing on ? Who is just ? Who has not sinned? Are we not a fallen race? Is this not the valley of tears? Reminds me of the song let the AMEN SOUND FROM YOUR PEOPLE AGAIN…LET ALL WHO HEAR NOW TO YOUR ALTER DRAW NEAR. What a decon denied us? 

  • Dissenter

    I was responding to Calogero: “You either are CATHOLIC or ya not! If not, you are only fooling yourself, not God!”Surely if anything, it should say ‘Christian’, although of course the earliest followers of Jesus were Jews, later called Nazarenes and later still Christian. The first time Catholic gets a mention is in AD107 by the Bishop of Antioch just before his execution. Of course, it is also part of the Nicene Creed (introduced AD 375) but using catholic with a small ‘c’. Catholic simply means universal but it has been adopted to represent the community that Jesus founded.

    I consider myself a Christian first, that is, someone who follows the teaching of Jesus Christ, I am baptised into the universal church known as the Catholic Church and attend Mass and the sacraments regularly, but I also worship with many Christians in other branches of the Christian faith.

    I do not necessarily agree that I am A Catholic – that doesn’t make sense! I am not a universal, I am a practicing member of the Catholic Church and a Christian..    

  • Anonymous

    My suggestion would be: This is an opportunity for the church to reach out to these non-practicing Catholics. Usually, it is the lack of firm and proper doctrine. Lack of proper knowledge leads to lack of love for God. So, before baptizing or officiating a wedding, Ask the parents or couple to attend a series of Faith teaching classes and bible study and cap it with a retreat. All with the intent of letting them see the treasure of having Jesus in our lives. 

    We have to call the lost sheep into the house of God. We have a duty of love to do so. Make sure that they understand so they come back. If they knew why we have the mass, who is really in the BREAD, then we won’t have problems of cultural Catholics. I know bec I was once poorly catechized. It was bec there were a few faithful souls in love with Jesus and a priest who took the time to let me see the beauty of the Catholic faith that I realized how fortunate I am to have what I have. They would have given me a disservice if they didn’t take the time to reach out to me and lovingly explain things. 

  • Anonymous

    Re: Why is a baby being denied a Catholic baptism?
    Given the circumstances you report, I don’t know why this baby is being denied a Catholic baptism. I can only recommend to the parents, if they want their child to be baptized and their marriage status examined to determine if it needs to be regularized, that they contact their local diocese for assistance.The more important question to be asked here though is why you have involved yourself in the matter, to the extent of judging the priest a “dictator.” There’s been no claim to a familial or friendly relationship with the parents, or to any delegation by them to help them in resolving it. On top of that, there’s been no indication of knowledge of the priest’s reasons for believing the couple’s marriage to be invalid or for presumably believing the couple is unable and/or unwilling to raise the child Catholic (one of the requirements for infant baptism). But there has been a clear condemnation of a priest, who for all that can presently be determined, might have good reason to question whether or not a baptism should be celebrated at this time.I can only say that it seems to me to be a more just solution for those who are not directly involved in the situation to step aside and allow this family and their priest to work it out for themselves.
    ———————————————————
    This answer comes from Michelle Arnold, an apologist with Catholic Answers, after someone posted a question related to a marriage not done by a catholic priest and they inquired about getting the baby baptised catholic.
    If you don’t study and know your catechism, nor the traditions and laws of the church, you have no business making a call on a priest or bishop who has had far more training than you or me. Know your faith! If not, you’re a pinhead!
    *******************************************
    Try Penny or Baltimore catechisms online–FREE. 
    Watch some apologetics and evangelization programs on http://www.ewtn.com– FREE.
    Talk to a good priest– especially one who is involved in a seminary.
    You cannot keep on saying stuff based on opinion vs studying the topic!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/pater.scotus Scott Settimo

    I think that I’d have to thank them for continuing to bring their kids to the sacraments. This, however, would be in the context of a meeting in which I would have to tell them as well of the spiritual peril they were in by living in that manner, the “mixed message” that it offers to the child(ren), and then offer, again, to bring them along the path of reconciliation.

    If often ask folks in this situation to imagine, that I, instead of wearing clerics, were wearing a white coat with a stethoscope draped around my neck. If I had an unfavorable diagnosis for them, they would certainly want to know the FACTS of their condition, correct? And it probably would not cross their mind that, by rendering that diagnosis and offering a proposed path to recovery (likely involving lifestyle changes), that I was not at the same time leveling an adverse personal judgment against them.

    In order for someone to come to repentance he needs to be told that what he is doing is, in fact, sinful. Pastors, like the prophets of old, are “watchmen” for the flock, in this regard (cf. Ez 33:1-9). Should we fail in this duty our punishment will be severe indeed. But, all such entreaties to repentance must be offered with the utmost gentleness and compassion . . . people are very, very fragile, after all. And such compassion should come without a great deal of difficulty for any priest who knows HIMSELF to be a sinner.

    Our Lord readily forgave the adulteress her sins . . . but he never told her that they were not sins.

  • Adela

    I understand and agree that the commitment of parents and godparents is necessary when baptising children, but it’s not the child’s fault if their parents are not committed. Why deny them the grace of the sacrament?

  • https://openid.org/locutus LocutusOP

    I agree that we are often – and I very much include myself – too quick to judge and that we are all att different places in our walk.

    Yet I think that sidesteps the main issue which Mrs. Phillips brought up….Namely, whether people who actively reject the teachings of the church should be welcomed into full communion.

    Those who accept the wisdom Christ and the teachings of the Church without necessarily being able to explain the whole faith – and that’s pretty much all honest Christians – are obviously more than welcome. ….Because they have a sincere longing for God and do not join simply for social reasons. To reject people who want to know God through the Church would definitively go against God’s expressed will.

  • mikethelionheart

    Dissenter

    I am a Catholic.
    To be Christian and to be Catholic are one and the same.

    By the way, the meaning of universal was everyONE, not everyWHERE.
    To distinguish the true church which taught that salvation was open to all from the Gnostics who taught that it was open only to a special few.

  • http://www.catholictruthscotland.com EditorCT

    The author of the above articles writes of the Archbishop of Dublin:

    “the archbishop is alleged to have said: “It requires maturity on those people who want their children to become members of the Church community and maturity on those people who say ‘I don’t believe in God. I really shouldn’t be hanging on to the vestiges of faith when I don’t really believe in it.’”

    There’s no “alleged” about it. You can hear the Archbishop saying this here
    http://www.rte.ie/player/#!v=1126327

    It’s been on the Catholic Truth website for about a week, alongside another shocking documentary in the same unbelievable “Would you believe?” series.

    Still, if he’s a bishop he can’t possibly do or say anything wrong can he? Isn’t that the Joana Bogle School of (Non) Thought that permeates the modern diocesan pews these days?

    As for the author’s uncertainty about how she would deal with lapsed souls. Well, I suggest you could do no better than reflect on Christ’s message in the Parable of the Lost Sheep. There’s no “mercy” in leaving people in their ignorance, “giving the benefit of the doubt” whatever that means. Any priest worth his salt will seek to remove “doubts” and rekindle the faith that must be there, albeit at mustard seed stage and it is negligent tojust allow access to the sacraments without teaching and without exhortation about the four last things. The four last things – death, judgement, heaven or hell – have kept Catholics on the right lines for 2000 years. Trouble is, the total breakdown in Catholic education, both in schools and in parishes, mean that there is nothing but ignorance in the homes. Hence the high levels of lapsation. It’s a vicious circle and those responsible for it, from the modern popes down through the clerical hierarchy, will pay the price at their judgment.

    True mercy, true compassion means not just going through the motions of the sacraments – it means, for priests, teaching without apology, the truths of the Faith. What it DOESN’T mean is turning people away.  If you watch the video linked to the Catholic Truth website right now, headlined Dublin Priest…Let the world of Church collapse! you will see the direct link between the loss of faith among the clergy and two things: the child abuse scandals (no fully believing Catholic priest abuses children) and the rocketing lapsation rates – the priest who said he wanted the Church to collapse has a mere 3% attendance in his parish.

    Death, Judgment, Heaven, Hell – he’s forgotten all about those. Take a peek at his Mass on the video and ask yourself it you really think he believes in transubstantiation? If his Mass is valid, I take back all I’ve ever said about Angela Merkel’s (lack of) fashion sense

  • Dave Corrigan

    Transubstantiation was fine in ancient Greece and in medieval and Byzantine periods of history It is still fine in countries like Haiti and other superstition ridden environments, but it has no place in modern contemporary civilised society. You do the Catholic Church any favours whatsoever by spouting this sort of whimsical, anachronistic fantasy; the stuff of Harry Potter. I have no doubt that you are very sincere, but you are sincerely wrong.

  • http://www.catholictruthscotland.com EditorCT

    Transubstantiation is a very elementary, key Catholic eucharistic doctrine.  Even your post-Vatican II (new, of course) Catechism explains this – see # 1373-77, 1413

    I haven’t a clue whether or not you are sincere – but wrong you most definitely is, my friend.

  • Jason Clifford

    Transubstantiation was fine in those times for a good reason – it is the truth.

    It remains the truth today. It is you who are sincerely wrong and who are denying the Incarnation of the Lord.

  • Anonymous

    At one time I would have said priests were justified in refusing or delaying Baptism of children of non-practising parents. This article changed my mind.
    http://www.faith.org.uk/Publications/Magazines/Sep07/Sep07PastoralPrioritiesConcerningInfantBaptism.html

    I agree with those who say that the times when children are presented for Sacraments is an opportunity to evangelise parents. It needs to be handled carefully, of course, but it needs to be done. I believe parents who would not come to any Church event for their own sake will often turn up if it is billed as being for the good of their children. It should be possible to use these occasions as a starting point and the potential for reaching the parents is likely to be great.

    Eileenanne

  • http://www.catholictruthscotland.com EditorCT

    It seems to me that doctors are changing their strategies, certainly over here in the UK.  Of course, first up they will try to explain and encourage a change in lifestyle but there is a definite hardening of medical attitudes towards, e.g. persistent smokers and from time to time the proposition is put that the National Health Service just cannot afford to treat patients who indulge themselves and won’t stop smoking. End of. 

    In other words, it can be very frustrating for those of us with lapsed family members – some of us suffer the lapsation of our entire families, without seeing any sign of interest from the clergy. On the odd occasion when they are in our families, they prefer to talk about football or something else that makes them seem “human” (that’s the rationale when I ask them why on earth they waste so much precious time talking about anything and everything except the Faith.)

    I think we’ve been there and done that, when it comes to the “mercy” and “gentleness” bit.  Time for the corded whip and some straight talking. After all, it worked for centuries – read the sermons of St Alphonsus Liguouri or read the accounts of the change wrought in little Jacinta of Fatima and her brother after they’d seen the vision of Hell, which, although it lasted but an instant, entirely changed the two children into self-sacrificing, committed Catholic souls. 

    There’s a young priest talking about the loss of Faith in our times, posted on YouTube which is currently linked to the Catholic Truth website, at http://www.catholictruthscotland.com which is worth hearing.

    The vast majority of the clergy and bishops need a massive injection of the urgency of the Gospel imperative – “repent NOW!” –  if they are to make any inroads into tackling the lapsation scandal – for it IS a scandal.  They need to spend less time worrying about their image or “damaging” people with straight-talking – don’t priests believe that they are merely instruments to be used by God – and God will not damage anyone.

  • http://profiles.google.com/liamronan49 Liam Ronan

    Do not discount the river of grace that Baptism itself opens up for the child throughout its life. 

  • AidanCoyle

    Do go and take a look at the footage on the Catholic Truth website where Fr Seamus Ahearne voices equanimity about the prospect of the collapse of the Church as currently constituted. Fr Ahearne speaks as a prophet. It’s reassuring to know that a place remains within the Church for such unsettling, prophetic voices that seek to create new spaces for the Spirit to infuse and ultimately regenerate the Church. 

  • http://www.catholictruthscotland.com EditorCT

    The mark of a true prophet is that they are preaching a RETURN to truth.  Fr Seamus Ahearne is preaching a “collapse” – destruction. That message does not come from God. The Holy Spirit, promised by Christ to be with His Church until the end of time, is not going to abandon her for the Church of Seamus Ahearne.  The “Church” that he wants is brand new – made in the image and likeness of Seamus  Ahearne, and a brand new “Church” that has attracted only 3% attendance in his own parish, mostly old women, with a couple of youngsters in the background looking very uncomfortable at the rubbishing of the Church before Seamus Ahearne and his Senior Citizens Club got their hands on it.. No thanks.

  • David Armitage

    It takes courage, but it’s worth it, to move away from the travesty that the Church has become thanks to the hierarchy,from the geriatric Vatican down to the local episcopacies. They have deformed the Church. and the faithful are those who refuse to follow their lead. The Holy Spirit is at work strengthening the faithful in their belief that although the corrupt institution is in its death throes there is a new Church being reborn. 

  • Parasum

    Several times explicitly, & sometimes implicitly without using the word.

  • Parasum

    “To be Christian and to be Catholic are one and the same.”

    ## Very un-PC, but spot on. The Church is universal in every sense. That is is why the Roman Canon speaks of Abel & Abraham – they are as genuinely Catholic Saints as Padre Pio or the BVM are. The OT Church includes Gentiles, such as Abraham) as well as Jews, such as David; there is a genuine continuity from Adam to the Apostles to the last men on earth.

    The Church is strictly universal, because it is the root, on Earth, of the Messianic Kingship of Christ; which is a “kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”

    A Davidic Messiah with a kingdom that extensive is Lord all. His People are a universal Church, not a Church from Israel alone at one time alone. He is no true Messiah, but a false one, if His Kingship is not universal – IOW, catholic.  If Evangelicals really believe that He is all-sufficient – that all-sufficiency is seen in action in His being Lord of all. If they are consistent, they cannot deny the universality – IOW, the catholicity – of His Church.   

    The Kingdom is not fully realised anywhere – but it has a tendency, a dynamism, that impels it to be fully realised. By right, all men are members of the Church; not their right, but Christ’s. He has a right to be recognised as Lord & adored as Lord by all creatures, and one day that will be a reality, not only in God’s intention, but on earth as well. Why does the Church pray “Thy Kingdom come”, if she does not intend and want and desire & long for & hunger and thirst for that very thing ?

  • Parasum

    I think baptism should be reserved to those capable of knowing what they are taking on. Otherwise one has the spectacle of Christians who haven’t a clue as to what Christianity is, or Christ. It’s become a mere social “rite of passage”, one of thlose things parents do for their children because it’s the done thing – not because this Jesus guy is of any importance or means anything. And I would also like to see Confirmation re-united with Baptism, or at the very least celebrated not long after it.  

    As matters now stand, the Church is full of baptised pagans. They have no place in the Church, no matter who they may be.  What can be more absurd, than to have Christians to whom Christ is just a dead guy rotting in a Jewish grave; or a metaphor for moral values; or a great human teacher; or non-existent; or some other wretched blunder ?

    If the Church did ever get back to being Christian, it would probably  be much more inclusive in some ways, and much more authoritariuan in others, than it is at present. It would not be to the liking either of “progressives” or of “conervatives”. It would be as vulnerable to criticism as ever – but it would criticised for being more nearly what it should be, and not for its deeply unChristian behaviour as at present. It will always be a scandal – but the scandal, the stumbling-block should be of the right kind: such as the scandal of the Cross. Not of the wrong kind, such as unrepented & unreformed corruption in the Church.

  • Tiddles the Cat

    I’m sick and tired of watching the Sacraments being administered in our parish by my already beleagured PP (and indeed any other parish church) being turned into a circus not much unlike a combination of the X Factor, London Fashion Week and the Oscars Red Carpet!

    It is God’s House after all. His House should NOT be treated like a social club!

    If one wants a wedding with a tasteful backdrop, then go to a stately home, a castle, the Blackpool Tower or your favourite footy club!

    How about commonsense ground rules for celebrants? If they put people off or get offended then… let them be offended! Tough diddly-pong-pongs!

    Genuine enquirers would understand where the celebrant is coming from, respect it and apply.

  • Virsatia

    I’m sitting here thinking of something my father said to me once about the infinite forgiveness of Jesus when I was struggling and afraid to come tell my own father what I had done. He said, “As much as I love you I cannot help you with this and there is nothing you could ever tell me that I wouldn’t forgive you for. The love of Jesus is infinitely more powerful than mine he will always forgive you anything if you come to him in in truth and asking for mercy.” Who are we to not welcome any lost Catholic asking to come back. Is that what Jesus would do?

  • MeganG

    I came across this article while searching the web for advice on coming back to the Catholic Church after an absence of many years. I can only hope and pray that the unwelcoming & judgemental attitudes demonstrated in some of the subsequent comments are not typical of what I will face when I eventually approach my local church.

  • Bob Hayes

    Megan, please do not let the infighting and intransigence on here deter you from returning to the Church. I doubt that this is at all representative of the Church beyond the blogosphere!

    Last year I returned to the Church – after an absence of forty years – and received a warm and supportive welcome from the priest and people of my local parish. You may find this link useful: http://www.catholicfaith.org.uk/  –  click on ‘Ask and find’.