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Nuncio urges bishops to be outspoken in their defence of Church teaching

By on Friday, 27 April 2012

Archbishop Mennini has served as nuncio since December 2010 (Photo: Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk)

Archbishop Mennini has served as nuncio since December 2010 (Photo: Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk)

The Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain has urged the Bishops of England and Wales to express the teaching of the Church in a “clear and outspoken way”.

Archbishop Antonio Mennini was addressing the bishops at their plenary conference in Hinsley Hall, Leeds, this week.

The archbishop spoke of “the importance of not losing hope in our dialogue with the secular world around us, trying always to courageously express the teaching of the Church”, adding: “I think we all know how important this is for the good of the wider society and for the Church and how close this dialogue is to the heart of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.”

He said: “We all know how difficult it is to live in an increasingly secularised society but, that is why we need to express the teaching of the Church in a clear and outspoken way. This testimony in public life will affect the future of the young and will, God willing, also touch the hearts of all persons of goodwill who are seeking meaning in their lives and, often without realising it, are in fact, searching for God.”

Elsewhere in his address, Archbishop Mennini asked the bishops to be generous in supporting the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, and said he was pleased that vocations to the priesthood and religious life had been one of the issues on the bishops’ agenda.

He also suggested working together with Jews and Muslims to promote the sanctity of life and the institution of marriage, and he praised the Queen for her sixty years as monarch, saying: “I cannot fail to express my admiration, as well as my congratulations, to Her Majesty the Queen, Elizabeth II, who has served as monarch for 60 years and clearly manifests in all that she does, especially her Christmas messages, the Christian faith which inspires her.”

FULL TEXT

My brother bishops, dear friends in Christ,

I wish to thank each one of you very sincerely for your welcome and for your kind invitation for me to be with you and to address you today. It gives me great pleasure to be here as the Representative of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, and to thank you on his behalf for all that you do. It is a particular pleasure for me to be with you on this, the Solemnity of Saint George, Protector of England and the heavenly patron of this Country. I am also pleased to say once again that I feel that gradually I am coming to know you better and to understand more deeply the challenges and the opportunities which you are facing, both in the public arena and in the life of the Church in Great Britain.

You have many matters to deal with during this meeting. I know that the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham has already been mentioned but, this year, as you probably know, Monsignor Newton kindly invited me to preside at their Chrism Mass, an occasion which I must say that I found moving and prayerful.

Do please continue to be generous in your support of their endeavours. In a time of recession and of diminishing resources we are all finding ourselves having to make difficult decisions, and not just financial ones, and I am glad to see that the promotion of vocations to the priesthood and religious life and the National Vocations Framework is under consideration, as indeed is the question of the ‘Life Choices and Aspirations of Teenagers.’ The future lies with the young who are looking to us for example and clear leadership in a complex society.

At our last meeting I think that I shared with you the importance of not losing hope in our dialogue with the secular world around us, trying always to courageously express the teaching of the Church. I think we all know how important this is for the good of the wider society and for the Church and how close this dialogue is to the heart of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.

Addressing some of the Bishops of America during their recent ‘ad limina’ visit on 9th March this year, you will recall that the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, pointed out very clearly: “our concern about threats to freedom of conscience, religion and worship which need to be addressed urgently, so that all men and women of faith, and the institutions they inspire, can act in accordance with their deepest moral convictions.” The Holy Father affirmed that: “particular mention must be made of the powerful political and cultural currents seeking to alter the legal definition of marriage.” In America, but here too, “The Church’s consciencious effort to resist this pressure calls for a reasoned defence of marriage as a natural institution consisting of a specific communion of persons, essentially rooted in the complimentarity of the sexes and oriented to procreation. Sexual differences cannot be dismissed as irrelevant to the definition of marriage. Defending the institution of marriage as a social reality is ultimately a question of justice, since it entails safeguarding the good of the entire human community and the rights of parents and children alike.”

As you well know, the Pastoral Letter on marriage which you issued at the beginning of the Government consultation was a good start in highlighting the importance of marriage and in encouraging our people to reflect on, and express, the view of Christians, Catholic and others, in this regard. However, I think that most of us realise that this is the start of what may well prove to be a lengthy and probably difficult campaign. As I said when we met last November, I also wonder if we shouldn’t ask for and look for more support among other Christian confessions and indeed, persons of other faiths. It seems to me that, concerning the institution of marriage, and indeed the sanctity of human life, we have much in common with the position of the Jewish community, the Chief Rabbi and many of the more significant representatives of Islam.

Within the Catholic community too, there are opportunities which need to be grasped. The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI also said to the American Bishops in this regard: “On the practical level, marriage preparation programmes must be carefully reviewed to ensure that there is greater concentration on their catechetical component and their presentation of the social and ecclesial responsibilities entailed by Christian marriage.

In this context we cannot overlook the serious pastoral problem presented by the widespread practice of cohabitation, often by couples who seem unaware that it is gravely sinful, not to mention damaging to the stability of society. I encourage your efforts to develop clear pastoral and liturgical norms for the worthy celebration of matrimony which embody an unambiguous witness to the objective demands of Christian morality, while showing sensitivity and concern for young couples.”

We all know how difficult it is to live in an increasingly secularised society but, that is why we need to express the teaching of the Church in a clear and outspoken way. This testimony in public life will affect the future of the young and will, God willing, also touch the hearts of all persons of goodwill who are seeking meaning in their lives and, often without realising it, are in fact, searching for God. In this regard, I cannot fail to express my admiration, as well as my congratulations, to Her Majesty the Queen, Elizabeth II, who has served as Monarch for sixty years and clearly manifests in all that she does, especially her Christmas Messages, the Christian Faith which inspires her.

Dear brothers, I draw your attention to the words of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, at the Chrism Mass this year when he spoke of genuine renewal. He said to his priests and to us too: “Dear Friends, it is clear that configuration to Christ is the precondition and the basis of all renewal. But perhaps at times the figure of Jesus Christ seems too lofty and too great for us to dare to measure ourselves by him. The Lord knows this. So he has provided “translations” on a scale that is more accessible and closer to us. For this same reason, Saint Paul did not hesitate to say to his communities: Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. For his disciples he was a “translation” of Christ’s manner of life that they could see and identify with. Ever since Paul’s time, history has furnished a constant flow of other such “translations” of Jesus’ way into historical figures. We priests can call to mind a great throng of holy priests who have gone before us and shown us the way… The saints show us how renewal works and how we can place ourselves at its service. And they help us realise that God is not concerned so much with great numbers and with outward successes, but achieves his victory under the humble sign of the mustard seed.” (Homily. Chrism Mass. 5 April 2012).

In this regard I hope that you will allow me to remind you of how important it is to continue to grow in an effective and affective communion among yourselves, given the fact that this communion reveals itself as the first way, the first form of Mission. We all know very well that to talk is absolutely indispensable – but just talking is not of itself sufficient… and then we can also reflect on the Lord’s command: “Love one another.

Such as my love has been for you, so must your love be for each other. This is how all will know you for my disciples: by your love for one another.” (Jn. 13:34-35). I believe that a stronger communion between you, between us, as brother bishops, would have very positive effects on your faithful and particularly upon your priests. One could quote the latin proverb: “exempla trahunt!”

To conclude, we live, of course, in a complex world and are challenged in many ways to continue to be living “translations” of the Gospel, in a successful way, and to carry out faithfully the holy mission entrusted to us by the Holy Father, and so, in this land, historically referred to as ‘The Dowry of Mary’, I also invoke the intercession of Mary, our Blessed Mother, and today particularly, Saint George, on all our endeavours.

Archbishop Antonio Mennini
Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain

  • Benedict Carter

    Dialogue, dialogue. Yak yak yak yakkety yak. 

    Dialogue my biologue!

    FORGET THE DIALOGUE: just get out there and convert them, for God’s sake!

  • Adam

    Please Archbishop, fill the vacant sees with some wonderfully orthodox bishops. 

  • MJCarroll

    There is a holocaust of souls going to hell every single day.

    It is happening right in front of the bishops eyes and they are choosing to ignoring it.

    These so-called bishops should be ashamed of their pitiful inadequacies.

  • The Young

    “The future lies with the young who are looking to us for example and clear leadership in a complex society.”

    Over the last few years we have got used to having to look REALLY hard.

  • ancientconvert

    Amen to that, Adam.   I am in one of those vacant sees,

  • Adam

     As am I. Our Bishop resigned over a year ago. The Diocese is hugely unstable. Some parishes haven’t had a priest for more than a couple of years because the priests are always being moved.

  • Alan

    Fine, but converting people requires dialogue, to discover what makes them tick, and to see if they have anything we can learn from (the denial of which is the height of supreme arrogance).  Simply dictating our beliefs, in the hope that they will follow, is useless.

  • Benedict Carter

    “Dialogue” is understood by the Church today as an end IN ITSELF – not as a means to an end (conversion). 

    That’s why I am vehemently opposed to it in its current form. It is fruitless. 

  • Alan

    To my mind, dialogue shows respect for the other person, and to refuse dialogue is to show lack of respect.  Missionaries have always found it necessary to find out what makes people tick, and how they think; without that, you cannot hope to convince them of anything.  And we should always be open to the possibility of learning from others.

  • Mikethelionheart

    You cannot win the media war as the truth cannot be made into easily understandable sound bites.

    Instead of doing their best to give Catholicism a bad reputation as a bunch of hate filled bigots the bishops should concentrate on making every single church in this country a centre of teaching and evangelisation.

    I can’t do it on my own. I sometimes feel I’m the only one in the diocese who evangelises. There are far too many potential converts get lost because of not being welcomed, taught or the priest doesn’t have time for them. I did a talk on how to evangelise and then canvassed everyone afterwards and the consensus was “Oh it’s too difficult”. Then they just quote that St Francis saying about evangelising by your actions, because in their minds that’s an excuse for doing nothing. Far, far too many lazy Catholics that have no fire of faith at all.

    If we want to evangelise we need to start from the bottom up and create more Catholics rather than thinking that speaking out against gay marriage and other issues is suddenly going to make atheists Catholic.

    If you don’t want these laws being brought in then get out there and evangelise so that there are more (knowledgeable) Catholics and then the political parties wouldn’t bother trying to do these things in the first place.

    This is the same mistake the bishops are making in same. They genuinely believe they can convert Spain back to the faith by lobbying the government to change laws.

    Just shows how out of touch with reality so many of our bishops are.

    Forget your rich and powerful cliques and get your backsides on the streets, train priests and laity to plan and deliver catechesis and be as aggressively evangelistic as the Muslims, JWs, Mormons and protestants. 

    Or, as I suspect, are we so far beneath you that you can’t even hear us?

  • Benedict Carter

    Alan, to have “conversion” as the objective is not to disrespect anyone. Of course it involves dialogue (though I hate the word). As I said, what I object to is having “dialogue” as the only objective – as it too often is. 

  • Benedict Carter

    Excellent post, 100% right. 

    Instead of the “New Evangelisation” (does anyone know what the hell it means?), we just need to get back to the “Old Evangelisation” – converting people. That takes a real faith, not the talk-fest that is the Church today. 

  • Benedict Carter

    The scandal of homosexual clergy unveiled:

    http://www.seattlecatholic.com/article_20020719_The_Fallen_Angels_of_St_Sebastians.html
    http://www.seattlecatholic.com/article_20010831_Wisdom_of_Bishop_Cawcutt.html

    Please God, give us chaste and holy Bishops who truly hold the Catholic Faith and teach it undiluted, with courage and trust in You!

  • Alan

    I agree that “dialogue” as an end in itself is pointless.  But I have been “dialoguing” for some time with atheists (among others) on another website, and it has certainly helped me understand what drives them, and therefore the approaches which should be adopted towards them.  For example, simply proclaiming “God exists” achieves nothing, but to point out that they make a basic category error (God is not a “thing” like other things) can help to clarify matters.  Whether I have achieved anything I do not know.  I still maintain that we can potentially learn from anybody, and should always remain open to fresh understandings.

  • dunstan

    Yes, Ben, I know what “New” evangelisation means.  It means the same as “New” Labour.  It is quite similar to “New” improved biological washing powder.  It is well exemplified in the “New” Mini (a British iconic car now made in Germany).  And every time you see the adjective “New” thrust before a noun of any kind in the context of persuasive or propagandist writing, it means a change from what went before.

    “New” evangelisation is non-evangelisation.  Those of us who went out in parish mission teams years ago simply evangelised.  What “New” ecvangelisation does is dialogue, which is watering down the faith.

  • buckingham88

     You are right Alan,there has to be an engagement with people at every level including the blogsphere.That conversation has to be open and fair.Its important not to take offense,and let some comments through to the keeper.
    In this site the word Reply,could be moved to Discuss, which may bring to mind that there is no need for long and often boring rhetorical ‘replies’,which boil down to watered invective.It would also take away that adversarial edge to the comments.

  • Scyptical Chymist

    A timely reminder from the Nuncio. For too long many of our clergy have been very reticent about stating Catholic doctrine unequivocally. For example, recently Pope Benedict has asked that Catholics go to Confession (or “Reconciliation” as it is now known, itself an example of the current PC language). When this was announced locally, it was done almost apologetically, by the pp, a good and kind man, indeed he said he did not want to lecture people about it and said many probably felt they were happy with their present practice. But surely the whole point was to get people to question their present practices in the light of the Pope’s request. If we cannot call a spade a spade when addressing fellow Catholics then one can see why he hierarchy have difficulty with the general public. I have no wish to go back to the days when the priest thundered from the pulpit about human frailties and eternal punishment (antoher non PC idea)  but ALL of us need to be reminded that we are sinners and that we must continually struggle to iive better lives. As for pronouncements which will be addressed to those outside the Church, these need to be forthright without being offensive. The major issues today concern abortion and homosexual “marriage” and the Church has a great battle on its hands in making the Catholic position clear. The hostile “liberal” press and those atheists who are bully boys not to mention the crowd of ignorant and often foul mouthed “antipapists” will interpret comments as “homophobia”  and “antichoice” or any other of the great knee-jerk positions of the age – although they will not be able to use the most used one – “racist”. However this will happen no matter how muted the Church’s statements are – so speak out – you are going to be vilified in any case so be forthright but reasonable. Also, bear in mind that there are many people who are looking for, or need, guidance and an aim in their lives. Islam is having quite a deal of success here  (greater numbers of conversions than we Catholics) and no one can say that they dilute their message for the sake of “dialogue”. The hungry sheep look up but are not fed.

  • Benedict Carter

    Hear, hear!

  • Fr Thomas Poovathinkal

    MAY BE AT LEAST SOME OF THEM ARE NOT GOOD PRIESTS. FIND OUT AND HELP IMPROVE THE SITUATION.

    WORK TO PROMOTE LATE VOCATIONS. WAS IT NOT JESUS’ WAY MOSTLY? THIS WILL HELP REDUCE THE NUMBER OF “BEST OF BOTH THE WORLD” PRIESTS WHOSE PHILOSOPHY IS, “THIS ALSO IS O.K., THAT ALSO IS O.K., EVERYTHING IS  O.K.”

  • Fr Thomas Poovathinkal

    “Instead of doing their best to give Catholicism a bad reputation as a
    bunch of hate filled bigots the bishops should concentrate on making
    every single church in this country a centre of teaching and
    evangelisation.

    MOST OF THESE YOU REFER ARE ONLY CLEVER MEN. DO YOU THINK THEY LISTEN TO “LAY PEOPLE” EXCEPT THOSE WHO COME IN HANDY?

    ARE THEY APOSTLES IN PRACTICE TO EVANGELISE? DO THEY KEEP THE WORD OF CHRIST? OR DO THEY HAVE THE GIFT OF THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST TO PRESENT THE CREDENTIALS OF THE SIGNS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD WHICH JESUS BROUGHT TO THIS WORLD?

  • Fr Thomas Poovathinkal

    FOR SOME  WHO ARE PERSONALLY INSPIRED IT MAY BE WORTH-WILE.   

    FOR MOST IT IS ONLY TIME-PASS OR JUST OBEDIENT COMPLIANCE TO THE DUTIES ASSIGNED.

  • Fr Thomas Poovathinkal

    LET US PRAY FOR THEM. AND ALSO PLAY OUR ROLES WITH THE GUIDANCE TAKEN  FROM THE SPIRIT OF JESUS.

  • Fr Thomas Poovathinkal

    IN THE APPOINTMENTS OF BISHOPS DO THE PEOPLE OF GOD HAVE ANY ROLE?

    DID JESUS CHOSE CLEVER MEN?

  • Alan

    None of us can judge who, or how many, go to heaven or hell.  So you are theologically wrong there.  Also, why “so-called”?  They are properly ordained bishops.  You may not like the way they go about things, but they are still proper bishops, who have a pastoral role in meeting people where they are, not where you would like them to be.  We are long past the days when people come to believe things simply because they are ordered to.

  • Jae

    Conversion is the job of the Holy Ghost NOT man. Our job is to plant seeds not to convert, after the dialogue meaning upload and download information between parties it’s time to “shake off the dust then move on”.

  • Jae

    This is really sad and great cause of suffering to the Body of Christ. However, there are a lot of new priests that are faithful to the Church’s Teachings and fidelity to the Holy Father. May God have mercy!

  • MJCarroll

    Alan,

    you are obviously a liberal Catholic who preaches secularised Catholicism.

    When people reject Christ they go to hell. That is the end of it. THERE ARE NO GREY AREAS in the Bible regarding this!

    What do you think is happening in the secularised Godless society? Do you think people are turning towards God or away from God?

    Your theology is INCORRECT and HIGHLY DANGEROUS!

    When someone turns away from God they will go to hell. No “ifs”, no “buts”. It is clearly in scripture and that is the end of it.

    When people like you say otherwise you deny what happened at at Calvary. You are making a mockery of the Crucifixion.

    Also when you say things like this, not only do your dice with your own eternity, you also dice with other people’s eternity. On judgement day you will be the one that will be accountable for lost souls when people have believed your nonsense and secularised, soft, non-Gospel believing theology.

    This is what happens when our Bishop’s have failed to make sure their flocks have not been taught correctly for four generations. They will also be made accountable for this.

    For goodness sake. Start reading your Gospel, get the message correct and start saving souls. Stop sending them to hell with your soft, liberalised, incorrect message.

  • MJCarroll

    Alan,

    You are obviously a liberal Catholic who preaches secularised Catholicism.

    When people reject Christ they go to hell. That is the end of it. THERE ARE NO GREY AREAS in the Bible regarding this!

    What do you think is happening in the secularised Godless society? Do you think people are turning towards God or away from God?

    Your theology is INCORRECT and HIGHLY DANGEROUS!

    When someone turns away from God they will go to hell. No “ifs”, no
    “buts”. It is clearly in scripture and that is the end of it.

    When people like you say otherwise you deny what happened at Calvary. You are making a mockery of the Crucifixion.

    Also when you say things like this, not only do your dice with your
    own eternity, you also dice with other people’s eternity. On judgement
    day you will be the one that will be accountable for lost souls when
    people have believed your nonsense and secularised, soft, non-Gospel
    believing theology.

    This is what happens when our Bishop’s have failed to make sure their
    flocks have not been taught correctly for four generations. They will
    also be made accountable for this.

    For goodness sake. Start reading your Gospel, start believing in what it actually says (instead of believing in what YOU THINK it says), get the message correct, and then start saving souls. Stop sending them to hell with your soft,
    liberalised, incorrect message.

  • Benedict Carter

    Excellent post.

  • Benedict Carter

    Consecrated, not ordained.

  • Alan

    I know there are verses in scripture which you can pick out to support this, and many evangelical Protestants would agree, but it is not the teaching of the Catholic Church.  Even if you were correct, none of us can judge the state of another’s soul, so we cannot speculate about how many people might end up in Hell, and nor should we.

  • MJCarroll

    It is ironic that you use the name of Evangelicals to try and support your liberalism. Whilst your liberalism is sending people to hell these evangelical protestants, whilst not obtaining salvation (which is only ever obtainable through the Catholic Church) have at least provided a pathway whereby some lost people may find ‘their reward’ in heaven. At least they achieve something even if it is not salvation.

    However, your Catholic liberalism achieves neither salvation or a just reward.

    If you do not believe this then please respond by clearly writing exactly what liberal Catholicism has achieved in terms of building up the Kingdom. Also please state (giving examples) how liberal Catholicism has in any way followed the teachings of the Gospel.

    Also, if you look closely at my comments you will see that I never actually said that it was possible to judge ‘who does or does not’ go to heaven. However, you seem to be of the mind set of;

    “Well, you never know, we might all end up there in the end’.

    Here is some news for you. Not everyone is saved. To suggest such a thing makes a mockery of the Crucifixion. If you reject God then you reject your salvation.

    And finally, we can actually speculate, if only to a small degree, from the last century how many people might end up in heaven. The message from Fatima was that in the previous century the vast majority will not end up in heaven. Some will get to purgatory and very, very few will go direct to heaven

    Below are two of the primary points:

    Our Blessed Mother can no longer restrain the hand of her Divine Son
    from striking the world with a just punishment for its many crimes.

    Another common misconception about salvation was voiced by the Lady herself
    during her August appearance. She warned the children:

    “Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners; for
    many souls go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and
    to pray for them”

    Finally, you obviously wish to defend the Bishops. Please tell me exactly what have the Bishop’s done in the last 50 years to stop this holocaust of souls?

  • Alan

    I think you should explain what you mean by “Catholic liberalism”, because otherwise I can’t give the examples you request.  If you mean the teachings of Vatican II (which possibly you reject if you are an SSPX supporter), then without that Council I for one would not be a Catholic.
    As for your comment about the Bishops (whom I am not particularly defending, merely acknowledging their authority), if you think they are teaching falsehoods then I wonder why you choose to remain in the Church they represent.  What, precisely, do the Bishops teach which you consider false?

  • JByrne24

    Talking of senior members of the Church needing to defend the (“Traditional”) Catholic Faith:

    Cardinal Pell (during his conversation with Richard Dawkins on Aussie TV) said that the story of Adam and Eve was a myth, not to be taken literally, and admitted that he believed in evolution.
    Dawkins then asked: “If Adam and Eve did not exist, where did original sin come from?”

    See this link to the (Traditional) Catholic Newspaper “The Remnant” on line:

    LINK:  http://www.remnantnewspaper.com/Archives/2012-0415-mjm-dawkins-pell.htm

  • Jae

    Yes I totally agree we need more courageous bishops to teach the Truth with fidelity to the Church and Magisterium like Archbishop Chaput in U.S.

  • MJCarroll

    Apologies if I came across a bit ranty yesterday. However I will say the following:

    In his homily in 1972 Pope Paul VI made the statement, “the smoke of Satan has entered the church”. This smoke left the confines of the Vatican and now emanates through every Catholic church in the western world. Both Christian and non-Christian eyes are now being closed to God by the Smoke of Satan in every Catholic parish. This is the root cause of all liberal problems in the Catholic church which has lead to secularisation within our church walls. This church secularisation occurred when the population started to have more disposable income in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s. The rise of consumerism and the sexual revolution meant that the populace soon started to realise that they could now have whatever they wanted. Church liberalism began when these people went to church and effectively said that:
     
    “If we can have what we want on the outside of the church then we can have what we want on the inside of the church”.
     
    The mechanism for allowing
    this paradigm shift was the Church Council of Vatican II which gave
    congregations more latitude.

    I would rather go in to the problems caused by the mis-interpretations by the Bishops Conference of England & Wales in 1980 at the National Pastoral Congress.

  • Honeybadger

    Thanks be to Almighty God and His Holy Mother for Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury!

  • Honeybadger

    Let us pray together to the Holy Spirit that Pope Benedict XVI will choose wisely and well good and faithful shepherds for both your diocese!

  • Adam

     This I agree! Bishop Mark is a living Saint!

  • Scyptical Chymist

    MJC – Have just read  through the Muniment Room blog to which you provided a link. This started off the following musings.

    It was an eye opener especially the revelations about Archbishop Worlock  and the National Pastoral Congress.  I can remember feeling rather guilty during those times that I did not feel in touch with the dumbing down trend in the Church (unfortunately hanging on even today in the form of those tasteless”people relevant” guitar masses) and the placing of ecumenical dialogue before expression of doctrine. The political aspect of the Archbishop Worlock “Catholic” – Bishop Shepherd (Church of England) alliance seemed to take precedence over all else and was covered widely in the national press. One of the fruits was the subsuming of two Catholic teacher training colleges and one Anglican into a single entity – now of course a new University which is rather more secular than its forebears and no longer offers a Mass even on a Sunday despite having a “religious education” department.

    As for some priests at that time, I recall vividly one firebrand proclaiming that it was impossible for a Catholic to be a Conservative – indeed it was sinful. This chimes exactly with the comment of “1569 Rising” in the blog. Indeed my impression is that the clergy are mostly left leaning even though the socialist/liberal policies of the party they support are increasingly anti-Christian (unfortunately so are some of those of the Cameronian “Conservatives” and their LibDem pals).

    It is time for the clergy and the activist minority of laity who get themselves involved in the various committees which now abound in parishes to wake up, listen to Pope Benedict, and refocus on essentials.

  • Marian

     Alan, only going by what you have said here, I do not get the impression that you are a “liberal Catholic.”  The very fact that you are trying to witness to the faith on atheist websites is an excellent sign that you are trying to fulfill your missionary role that all of us Catholics are called to.  Your comments about opening dialogue and being respectful are good, so long as you continue to hold the Catholic view as the fullness of truth (although, as you say, and I agree, others also have been given some truth, and we can learn something from them… not things that are foreign to our faith, but things that enrich our understanding of what the Catholic faith teaches).  In any discussion about faith, it’s good to keep in mind the goal of the discussion.  Are we trying to be right, just to show how wonderful we are, or are we trying to encourage our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to grow closer to God, to knowing Christ, and to being open to the working of the Holy Spirit in their lives?  The latter requires that we first and foremost use charity in our discourse, and then gently using faith and reason, help them find their way to the truth.  I think this is why we are called to be the Light of Christ in the world:  Light does not push us unwillingly from behind.  It offers a way through the darkness, which each of us then has to choose (exercising our God-given free will) whether or not we will follow it.  I do think MJCarroll has a point in cautioning you about being too open to other perspectives.  I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do it, but you should be careful when you do it.  If you are familiar with The Lord of the Rings, the character of Saruman is the poster-child for this caution.  He began as a good wizard, and his work was to learn the ways of the enemy so that they could better defeat him.  But too much dabbling in the darkness drew him away from the light, and eventually he himself became an enemy of the good.  It might seem a silly caution, but faith can all too easily be lost (as I’m sure you’ve found from your discussions with atheists).  Perhaps the best remedy is to remain solidly grounded in the Catholic faith by reading and studying its tenets, by praying, and by opening yourself up to the operation of grace that is found in the sacraments.  God bless and keep you in your work!

  • scary goat

     Could you please tell us the content of your talk here.  Maybe it’s too long for a post, but just bullet points would help.  Or could you make a pamphlet to be distributed to parishes? Or a website we could link up to? I agree totally that we need to evangelise, but we need to be taught how.  It is not easy…we need the tools to do the job.  I also feel that we should do less wading into political minefields and more to promote OUR values.  People will  only come to it by free choice.  Also the powers that be need to take care about the priests.  Scandals are not good PR. I remember reading about a convert, I don’t remember his name, but he was an actor. He was once acting as a priest on location, and a small child came up to him and took his hand in complete trust, thinking he was a priest.  That so impressed him, it was the first spark towards his conversion.  How different the situation is today!  I am also a bit wary of making allies with muslims etc.  Sure they are people of faith and there is some common ground in terms of social/moral issues, but I’m not quite sure why we can’t stand on our own feet rather than making “strange bedfellows” when certainly some of their social/moral values differ considerably from our own. The marriage issue is a case in point.  Muslims, like us, do not accept gay marriage, but it’s a bit of a stretch of the imagination to lump us together on views of  “the sanctity of marriage” as the Islam accepts not only divorce and remarriage, but also polygamy. 

  • scary goat

     Agree.  I was taught that God’s sacraments are binding but God is not bound by His sacraments.  Ultimately God knows what is in people’s minds and hearts and He will judge.  I don’t quite get the mentality that is too keen to assign others to hell.

  • Maccabeus2

    The Nuncio’s comments to the English hierarchy is a richly-deserved and carefully coded admonition of their woefully inadequate conduct since Vatican II and especially at the current time when the Church is under grave and sustained attack from our nation’s social and political elites. The Vatican is clearly deeply disturbed by the feckless, insipid, bland, virtually Christ-less tone and content of the hierarchy’s response to the threats posed by aggressive secularism. It’s about time the trendy word ‘dialogue’ was ditched for good and all, and replaced by a robust return to preaching the Word of God and openly denouncing the widespread evils permeating Western society. To their credit, some of the Bishops are already doing this, but we need a lot more of them either to stand up, be counted, and defend the faith, or do the honest thing and get out.

  • Jack McFall

    Oh, Yea !!. Well, tell that to Cardinal Sean Brady and the people abused by the Catholic Church
    http://www.independent.ie/national-news/brady-did-not-act-on-smyth-sex-abuse-claim-says-victim-3096874.html. Just sing your obsolete tuneless, ‘swan song’http://www.independent.ie/national-news/brady-did-not-act-on-smyth-sex-abuse-claim-says-victim-3096874.html. Just sing your obsolete tuneless, ‘swan song’

  • Fr Thomas Poovathinkal

    EVERYBODY PLEASE FIND OUT WHAT THE PROPHET OF MUSLIMS SPEAK OF

    CHRIST THE LORD.

    ARGUMENT IS MOSTLY FOOLISH. AND IT IS NOT NECESSARILY THE RIGHT TOOL TO FIND OUT THE TRUTH.

    WE MUST PRAY FOR ALL WITHOUT ANY EXCEPTION. THIS IS WHAT THE LORD HAS TAUGHT US. IF WE WANT TO BELONG TO HIM WE MUST OBEY HIM, CHRIST THE LORD.

    THE  LORD WISHES THE SALVATION OF ALL. DID HE NOT PRAY EVEN FOR THOSE WHO KILLED HIM BY CRUCIFIXION? THUS IS HE NOT THE VIRTUOUS CIRCLE, ONE WHO SAVES EVEN HIS ENEMIES? HE IS OUR SUPREME MODEL AND EXAMPLE.

  • Fr Thomas Poovathinkal

    YOU HAVE SOME CLEAR POINTS LIKE (VERY) FEW CATHOLIC CHRISTIANS.

    WHAT I HAVE SEEN IN SOME TRUE APOSTLES (THE VINCENTIAN FATHERS OF THE DIVINE  RETREAT CENTRE, CHALAKUDY, KERALA) IN MY COUNTRY: INDIA, TO EVANGELISE WE NEED TO BECOME APOSTLES. FOR THIS WE NEED TO LOVE AND KNOW THE WORD OF GOD AND OBEY IT. AND ABOVE ALL WE NEED TO HAVE THE GIFT OF JESUS’ HOLY SPIRIT.

    ONLY THOSE WHO YEARN FOR THESE AND PRAY CONTINUOUSLY CAN HAVE THIS GIFT OF APOSTLESHIP.

    THIS IS HOW SAUL BECAME PAUL THE APOSTLE. HE IS NOT OF THE ORIGINAL 12 OF JESUS AND YET HE IS THE GREATEST OF ALL APOSTLES.

    QUOTES FROM  scary goat:

    “I agree totally that we need to evangelise, but we need to be taught how.” 

    “It is not easy…we need the tools to do the job.”

    NOTHING WORTHWHILE IS EASY BUT WHEN WE YEARN AND PRAY FOR APOSTLESHIP AND  ALLOW THE LORD TO ACT IN US THINGS HAPPEN. HE MAKES IT HAPPEN. PLEASE VISIT THE DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE, CHALAKUDY, KERALA, INDIA,  AND ENCOURAGE OTHERS OF GOOD-WILL TO DO THE SAME. THE COMPANY OF APOSTLES CAN HELP US TO BECOME APOSTLES.

  • Fr Thomas Poovathinkal

    THE FAITH OF SO MANY OFFICIALS ARE ONLY SUCH. YOU CAN SEE THE FRUITS TOO VERY CLEARLY.

  • Parasum

    “The message from Fatima was that in the previous century the vast majority will not end up in heaven.”

    ## To replace the Gospel with a vision the authenticity of which is not beyond doubt, and which is not even an element of Catholic teaching, is odd, to say the least.

    We are not bound to believe visions. The Church cannot make a vision part of its doctrine. As for what alleged visions are alleged by the visionary to say – that has no weight for the Catholic world at large; the only person bound by such alleged words, is the visionary.

    Source: Poulain’s “The Graces of the Interior Life”. Father Poulain can hardly be called a raving modernist: his book contains a leter of commendation by St. Pius X.

    STM that Poulain is a safer authority in Catholic mystical theology than those who try to make a vision into something approaching a Fifth Gospel. Especially as assertions about the number or proportion of the damned are speculations, nothing more. No Catholic cannot be required to believe a theological speculation (itself uncertain) *perhaps* expessed by a vision that *may have* happened. Moral obligations can’t be built upon such unsteady foundations.

    Speculating about the damnation of others is a distraction from the state of the speculater’s own soul. And saying that most or many will be damned is rash judgement. Quite apart from turning the Good News into the Worst News Possible. If the only good of Catholicism is the Good News of the damnation of a large part of the Church, why should any one care a damn (as it were) for it ?

    “Our Blessed Mother can no longer restrain the hand of her Divine Son from striking the world with a just punishment for its many crimes.”

    ## In the words of an OP, this is “tripe”. It’s nonsense, and always has been, because it separates the Kingdom of Christ into a Kingdom of (punitive) Justice, ruled by Christ, &, a Kingdom of Mercy, ruled by Mary. Guess who defends mankind (hint: not Jesus) ?

    “Not everyone is saved. To suggest such a thing makes a mockery of the Crucifixion.”

    ## It doesn’t – otherwise the victory of Christ over sin, death and Hell would even clearer if nobody was saved. God knows, and God Alone, whether all are saved. Men are poor judges of their own hearts – how can they possibly know the hearts of millions they have never met ? Is it so difficult to leave it like that ?

  • MJCarroll

    Parsum,

    Many great Saints have stated that very few will be saved over the last few centuries. Some in fact have stated that the number of people saved would be terrifyingly small in relation to the number who have ever lived. These saints knew this because they had visions.

    You imply that visions are not important. You state:

    “We are not bound to believe visions. The Church cannot make a vision part of its doctrine. As for what alleged visions are alleged by the visionary to say – that has no weight for the Catholic world at large; the only person bound by such alleged words, is the visionary”.

    You have to remember that the Gospel goes so far and that Christ sent the Holy Spirit to guide the (Catholic) Church after He had left. The problem is that, despite Christ saying this, the gifts of the Holy Spirit have been sidelined by trads and libs who do not like the way the Holy Spirit goes about His business. One of the ways the Holy Spirit guides the church is through people having visions. These visions must be taken seriously.

    I do not know whether you are a trad or a liberal by your comments. However, both groups make the mistake of shutting out the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit teaches the Catholic Church through visions, speaking in tongues (and their interpretation) and prophecy.

    Both the trads and liberals have ‘shut out’ the Holy Spirit from the Catholic Church mainly because the perception is that the gifts of the Holy Spirit have been hijacked by the charismatic renewal crowd. However, despite this some times being the case, faithful orthodox Catholics can also have these gifts. It is a lib/trad error that only the happy clappy charismatics have these gifts. Faithful orthodox Catholics from monks & nuns to real Catholic faithful orthodox laity have also been given these gifts of the Holy Spirit and this is still going on today. Whether trads or libs like it or not, there are little old ladies and men who have never sang a ‘happy clappy’ tune in their life who are having these experiences to this day as it was set out in the Gospel.

    In terms of salvation there is a major problem in the Catholic Church. Not only is the spiritual and the Holy Spirit shut out, but there is no longer any teaching that states that your sins will be forgiven in confession and that in-between confession there must be conversion of the heart toward Christ so that you can actually fight sin and move closer to becoming more Christ like. There are too many Catholics relying on Confession and never moving forward in their journey of faith.

    In essence what I am trying to say is that Catholicism is not just about going to confession just to get in to heaven. We are called to become saints and to strive for perfection whilst we are on Earth. When we shut out the Holy Spirit that journey becomes significantly more difficult. The Holy Spirit is for everyone. We have to learn to walk in the Word i.e. renew our minds daily by reading the Gospel so that we do not fall in to sin. This will eventually lead to being able to Walk in the Spirit i.e. trusting in God, however difficult it may be in everything we do.

    Do not be so arrogant to assume that many (or yourself) will end up in heaven. Head the words of St. Paul, writing to believers in 1 Corinthians 9:27 who testifies,

    “…I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.”