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Ignorance of faith risks creating cafeteria Catholics, says Pope

By on Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Pope Benedict XVI at his weekly general audience in St Peter's Square (Photo: PA)

Pope Benedict XVI at his weekly general audience in St Peter's Square (Photo: PA)

Ignorance of the faith puts Christians at risk of following a “do-it-yourself” religion, Pope Benedict XVI has said.

People need to become more familiar with the Creed because it is there that the “Christian moral life is planted and … one finds its foundation and justification”, the Pope said today at his weekly general audience.

Before an estimated 20,000 people gathered in St Peter’s Square, the Pope began a new series of audience talks to accompany the Year of Faith, which marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.

He said he hoped the series of instructional talks, which is expected to run until November 24, 2013, will help people “strengthen or rediscover the joy of faith and realise that it isn’t something foreign to or separate from everyday life, but is its soul”.

Pope Benedict said the widespread and dominant nature of today’s secularism, individualism and relativism means that even Christians are not completely “immune from these dangers”.

Some of the negative effects include faith being lived “passively or in private, a refusal to learn about the faith, and the rift between faith and life”, he said.

“Often Christians don’t even know the central core of their own Catholic faith – the Creed – thereby leaving room for a certain syncretism and religious relativism,” he said. Without a clear idea of the faith’s fundamental truths and the uniquely salvific nature of Christianity, “the risk of constructing a so-called ‘do-it-yourself’ religion is not remote today”.

“Where do we find the essential formula of the faith? Where do we find the truths that have been faithfully handed down and make up the light of our daily life,” he asked.

He said the answer is the creed, or profession of faith, which needs to be better understood, reflected upon and integrated into one’s life.

Christians need to “discover the profound link between the truths we profess in the creed and our daily life” so that these truths are allowed to transform the “deserts of modern-day life”.

The Christian faith is not a belief in an idea or just an outlook on life, he said, but a relationship with the living person of Christ who transforms lives.

That is why having faith in God isn’t merely an intellectual activity, but something that “truly changes everything in us and for us; it clearly reveals our future destiny, the truth of our vocation within history, the meaning of life and the pleasure of being pilgrims heading toward the heavenly home”.

Pope Benedict said faith doesn’t take anything away from one’s life, rather it is what renders life more just and humane.

Current cultural changes “often show many forms of barbarity, which hide under the guise of victories won by civilisation,” he said. However, “wherever there is domination, possessiveness, exploitation, treating others as a commodity”, and arrogance, humankind is “impoverished, degraded and disfigured”.

Faith shows that humanity will not find its full realisation unless the human person “is animated by the love that comes from God”, he said. The gift of faith then finds expression in “relationships full of love, compassion, care and selfless service toward others”.

Hundreds of pilgrims from Honolulu; Whitehorse, Canada; and Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau, Alaska, attended the general audience with their bishops. They were in Rome for the canonisation of Blessed Marianne Cope of Molokai, Hawaii, and Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, a Native American who was born in upstate New York and died in Canada in 1680.

The Pope also marked International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, observed on October 17, to promote greater awareness of poverty and destitution worldwide.

The Pope encouraged those working to end poverty to “preserve the dignity and rights of everyone who is condemned to be subjected to the scourge of poverty”.

  • Benedict Carter

    The Ottaviani Intervention is perhaps THE foundational document of Traditionalism.

    One thing to note about it is a whole bunch of other Cardinals were prepared to sign it along with Cardinals Bacci and Ottaviani (who was the head of the CDF) but the text was published in France ahead of time and therefore the extra signatures were missing.

  • Benedict Carter

    Many times, and this won’t be the last I suspect :-)

  • Benedict Carter

    Go slowly and be patient with yourself too. 

  • daclamat

    Why don’t you post BenJabbyWock? You take up an enormous amount of space

  • Patrickhowes

    Spoken like a true and faithful  catholic headmaster.Poor kids at your school!

  • Patrickhowes

    Mr Brownridge is only interested in peddling his own career for a big fat salary and to keep in with the magic circle.

  • Patrickhowes

    But on your terms and you deciding what to believe and what not to believe and taking it upon yourself to indoctrinate the children at your school with your ideas and interpretations.I refer you to the article on the CH concerning cafetereia catholics.Were you a product of Strawberry Hill or Roehampon??’

  • Patrickhowes

    So do you provide them with condom machines and the school minibus to go to an abortion clinic?

  • Parasum

    “Catholics have absolutely no requirement whatsoever to believe its teachings, Nostra Aetate being a declaration of the Council only, NOT a dogmatic statement”

    ## Two things:

    1. “Not dogmatic” =////= “not needing to be believed”. All teaching of the CC is proposed for the belief of Catholics – not just the bits that enjoy the highest degree of theological certitude.

    2. That is the first time I’ve seen it said that *Nostra Aetate* does not have to be believed. And how can it not be meant to be believed ? If an Ecumenical Council “duly assembled in the Holy Spirit” (what happened to *that* phrase, I wonder ?) issues 16 documents, how are they not all meant to be accepted for belief ?

    After all, there are different degrees of assent, with different theological motives, just as there are different degrees of theological certitude.

  • Parasum

    “…all Catholics may personally disagree with Ecumenism anyway if they want to.”

    ## Then why is that point never ever ever  ever ever made ? The opposite is very definitinely the impression given – that Catholics are not really Catholic, if they do not accept ecumenism as a thoroughly good, even God-given, thing.

    How much more stuff from V2 have Catholics been given the impression they “have to” believe, when in fact they have no such obligation to believe thoxe things at all ? And isn’t it just a tiny bit dishonest of the bishops, Papacy included – or at the very least, a bit neglectful – to fail to make clear to Catholics that documents X, Y, Z, A & B & C, ragher than having to be accepted as teaching documents,are in fact not teaching documents at all ? The intellect is too great a gift, and earthly life too short, for documents that teach nothing and make no demands on Catholics, to be treated as something like Holy Writ.

    If you are right, that merely emphasises what a ghastly waste of time V2 was. And how indescribably useless all the bishops have been if they can’t get across a simple bit of info such as the one you mention. If you can do it, there is no excess for them not to, and for the Pope least of all. There really ought to be a book named “101 1/2 things to do with a bishop” – it would meet a real need, unlike them. 

  • scary goat

     I’m no expert on where personal dissent may or may not be allowed, but even if this is only “guidelines” which one may accept, without going into detail, it’s a rather “unfortunate” statement.  I believe the Pope has given some indication that it needs “clarifying” ……I seriously hope so.  I would advise anyone to take it with a rather large pinch of salt, at least until it is clarified.  It is problematic for more than one reason.

  • scary goat

     This is related to my point above. Many people (including clergy) seem to have taken the above-mentioned text on board. I have heard a few things which made me scratch my head a bit but didn’t realise until now where they came from. I view that text as being dangerously open to “misinterpretation” to put it politely.  I don’t think I had better say more than that.

  • scary goat

     Ok, read it.  Just a quick read through to get the general gist of it.  Even my boggles have grown boggles. Much much more study needed.

  • scary goat

     I would suggest you read the document mr. C suggested to me above.  It is not written by the “Econe bovver boys” and is rather illuminating.  I am far from understanding the whole subject although I’m working on it, it’s very confusing, but I think you might need to be a little more open-minded on it.

  • scary goat

     . Do you get my point?

    No, not really.  Because mr. C is not trashing established teachings.  Only that particular lesson.  (or to be more precise, PART of that lesson).

  • JabbaPapa

    Again — be careful.

    Particularly since there is a propensity in the arabic/muslim culture that you’ve come from to pay too much heed to conspiracy theories and stories about secrets or lies.

    The theology of the Mass has not changed at all ; though the way that this theology is expressed in the Novus Ordo is not identical to the way it is expressed in the TLM.

    Those seeking to express a *different* theology via the NO, for example the whole community meal thing, are grossly *abusing* both the Mass and the theology.

    The rituals of the Mass have changed several times in the past 2000 years, so that change in itself is not to be rejected out of hand — though there is a VERY strong argument that the changes in the Novus Ordo are simply too much at the same time ; and an even stronger argument that the possibilities for local variations away from the norm are much MUCH too permissive, and that these possibilities might constitute liturgical abuses in and of themselves.

    There is no doubt that there have been, and that there are, people in the Church working to try and Protestantise it as much as possible. This does not mean that the Church nor the Mass have been in fact protestantised though.

    It DOES mean that there are still far FAR too many individual priests, groups of priests, entire dioceses giving a rendition of the Mass that is greatly abusive, and thoroughly protestant in character and intention.

    To be perfectly honest — if the only choice I had was between attending a clearly abusive Mass provided by some modernist reformer, and attending a SSPX Mass, I’d likely attend the SSPX. (and lodge a formal complaint against the abusive priest) (though if it were one of those extreme right-wing fundamentalist anti-Vatican II anti-Rome SSPX chapels, then I could not attend)

    My *actual* choice though is between attending a properly given completely orthodox NO Mass, including elements of Latin and traditional singing, and attending a TLM given in my own parish by one of our own diocesan priests.

    My point being that the actual situation on the ground in this or that parish can vary tremendously from one place to another.

    Be careful of the sometimes overly broad generalisations in the SSPX position.

  • JabbaPapa

    The three declarations of the Council (Gravissimum Educationis, Nostra Aetate, and Dignitatis Humanae) are NOT declarations of doctrine, they are documents declaring questions that the Church is at present reflecting upon.

    They do not contain definitive statements, except where they may use doctrines in the course of their arguments — The declarations provide topics that the Church is asked to think about.

    Ipso facto, one may either agree with or disagree with their contents, or have whichever more complex understanding of them than binary acceptance/rejection, with no effect on one’s own Catholicity nor that of others.

    No, they can’t just be entirely rejected 100% — because the *framework* of examination that they provide is, at least, to be accepted as the Catholic understanding of the nature of that enquiry.

    We must accept de fide that the questions that are raised in the declarations are the right questions to ask — we do NOT need to accept de fide any answers that the declarations may specifically suggest for this or that aspect of each question, but we are simply asked to accept them more theologically as proposals towards such answers.

    The declarations are theological documents with a purpose towards theological debate, not doctrinal documents with a teaching purpose.

    They constitute a declaration of the sort of post-Conciliar theological work that the Council Fathers wished the Church to engage in.

  • JabbaPapa

    erm, no, not really.

    The four Constitutions are doctrinal or dogmatic in nature, and they MUST be accepted.

    The nine Decrees must be believed or assented to or obeyed, in their various particulars — but there may be questions inside these nine documents that are more complex than others.

    The three Declarations are to be accepted as the framework for further thought on the questions described therein, but they are NOT definitive statements in the slightest, and they may be disagreed with fairly freely.

    Unitatis Redintegratio is a Decree, which means that it MUST be accepted — but most of it’s teachings are not of a definitive nature, when looked at in detail. We MUST accept that Bishops, Bishops Conferences, and the Holy See may authorise Catholics to attend Ecumenical events ; but the Decree does NOT require Catholics to accept any non-Catholic doctrines that non-Catholics may propose during those events, nor does it require Catholics to attend those events in the first place, and where such authorisations are NOT provided, then the general rule is that Catholics may NOT attend them, as provided by Mortalium Animos.

    The position of a Catholic who rejected Ecumenism entirely would contradict Unitatis Redintegratio not in the slightest UNLESS that Catholic were to deny the rights established therein of Bishops, Bishops Conferences, and the Holy See to provide permission to attend Ecumenical events.

    The teachings of Unitatis Redintegratio concerning the nature of Ecumenism are to be considered positively, but they are NOT for the most part definitive declarations of doctrine, but merely descriptions of the current beliefs of the Magisterium concerning the nature of Ecumenism.

    Vatican II is one of the more difficult Councils in the History of the Church, as were in their time Nicea, Constantinople, Florence, and Trent.

    It’s not helpful to consider the work of Vatican II with an overly binary outlook of is it “right or wrong” … simply because the Council did not provide that sort of teaching.

    The four Constitutions are essentially works seeking to put a great deal of existing pre-Vatican II doctrine into four more easily accessible documents. With a small number of new doctrines declared by the Council Fathers.

    The nine Decrees have the purpose of engaging with various themes and instances in a more contemporary fashion.

    The three declarations ask the Church to think about the questions that they raise, and declares those questions as being important for the Faith.

  • scary goat

     , it seems to me that both parties will be driven together out of necessity at some point in the next few years.

    I do hope so.  That would settle my mind a bit.

  • scary goat

     It’s ok, I’m not inclined to indulge in conspiracy theories.  And I’m checking  everything against the counter-arguments.  I have a general attitude to everything “don’t believe all you see and less than half of what you hear”. What I am trying to achieve is a balance in my own mind. That’s my nature, I’m a “middle path” sort of person….a “bridge builder”, a “bigger picture person”. Here we have everything I believe, trust, love…. and some pretty convincing evidence that something has gone a bit off track. I’m also not a “bury my head in the sand” sort of a person. For me, love isn’t about blindly defending what I want to see….I am more of a “warts and all” type person. I have to work this out to my own satisfaction…..which may take several years….I’m not jumping in any direction.  I have got a lot of hope and trust invested in Pope Benedict….I’m pretty sure he knows what he’s doing.

  • Patrickhowes

    Not only the clerics but Catholics en masse especially in the northern European countries

  • Patrickhowes

    What is of Caesar is of Caesar and what is of the Lord is of the Lord.As a Headmaster,Mr Brownbridge,you need to go to the classroom,but as a pupil and relearn your Catechism

  • Patrickhowes

    Catholics do not meditate,they contemplate.Meditation is part of oher religions….

  • No more NO!


    Vatican II was only a Pastoral Council – Therefore it is not binding dogmatically or Infallible! I believe the Holy Spirit protects Dogmatic Councils only.  The Last BINDING Council, and therefore the last one called INFALLIBLE (overshadowed and guaranteed protected by the Holy Spirit) was the Council of Trent – Sadly, the ONE Council that ALL MUST OBEY – or be Apostates.  However, no Schismatic Modernist obeys the Statutes of the Council of Trent or treats its unalterable  proclamations as Dogma – that is obviously why Our Lady stated during all her apparitions during the last 200 years that the C20th would be the time when many, many blinded people in the Church would be led astray into Apostasy and Mortal Sin.  (Grave Error!)

  • No more NO!

    Not True! To disagree or be disobedient to the Holy Pontiff (The Vicar of Christ on Earth) is to be disobedient to Christ Himself.

    2089 Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it. “Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.” [Code of Canon Lawc.751]“When it comes to Catholics who are formally guilty of heresy, apostasy or schism, the Church applies the penalty of excommunication. The 1983 Code of Canon Law,repeating the sanctions of the earlier 1917 Code, states,c. 1364
    1. With due regard for can. 194, part 1, n. 2, An apostate from the faith, a heretic or a schismatic incurs automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication and if a cleric, he can also be punished by the penalties mentioned in can. 1336, part 1, nn. 1, 2, and 3.
    2. If long lasting contumacy or the seriousness of scandal warrants it, other penalties can be added including dismissal from the clerical state. This canon is saying that once a person willingly repudiates Christ, embraces a heresy, knowing it to be contrary to divine and Catholic faith, or refuses submission to the Roman Pontiff (or communion with the members of the Church subject to him), by virtue of the law itself they are automatically excommunicated. No ecclesiastical act is necessary and  no public notice.

  • No more NO!

    “. I do wish these popes and alikes would stop plucking doctrines from the sky and then telling us to be true to thee till death”

    As you no doubt already have been told, since you are Catholic??  The Pope remains just what he always HAS been the ONLY person here on Earth guaranteed to be speaking in Christ Jesus’s stead infallibly in matters of Faith and Morals – He is protected in those areas NOT because the Holy Father is infallible, he is NOT, Christ permits His Holy Bride a leader guaranteed not to err in matters that govern the Church, just so His Church will keep going and not fall under Satan’s rule..  That is the way that Christ chose to establish His  Kingdom here on Earth, and just WHY the Catholic Church remains the ONLY Organization still in existance that has been around for 2000 years. It has ONE leader, Peter (Petros – meaning ROCK) Christ built HIS house (as He predicted the WISE Man would do –  in Matthew 7:26  - building it  “On the Rock”  The Protestants, DO NOT build their’s on the Rock – they do what Christ told them NOT to do – they build their Houses on “sand” – the results of their doing so – are proven correct – Christ’s House stands, theirs has fragmented, into a few hundred thousand sects and is collapsing into more even as I write……

    Basically “daclamat” –  Those “doctrines” Papa Benedict is “plucking from the sky” are originating from Heaven!  He is the one chosen from all eternity to steer the Barque of Peter at this precise moment in time!  To disobey or question Dogmatic Pronouncements of the Pope is Protest-ant.  Schismatic, Apostate ALL excommunicatable offences (it incurs an automatic excommunication -

    We have to submit ourselves humbly to the authority placed over us (like HE did!) Whether we like it or not.  Papal Pronouncements are fully binding to ALL who would not incur a conviction from Heaven (or accused by Satan) as being in Schism from the most High God – and thereby being a traitor to the Davidic King (Christ) We really have no right to disagree with the way Christ chose to set up His earthly Kingdom.  It was created in the exact manner that the Kings of the Old Testament set up their Kingdoms.  The King always chose a Prime Minister,  who was granted the Keys to the Kingdom, and the power to “bind and loose laws” governing with FULL AUTHORITY whilst the King was away from his Kingdom (see Isaiah 22:22)) 

    It is clear in  Scripture that St Peter was the FIRST Pope,and in the Gospel of St Matthew chapter 16 Christ draws the other Apostles attention to the will of the Father that Simon, who He renames “Peter” (Petros, Rock) should be the one inspired by Heaven to govern the earthly Church.  In this chapter Christ recognises that the Father has inspired St Peter to utter the Father’s first dogmatic pronouncement.[16] Simon Peter answered and said:” Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God.” [17] And Jesus answering, said to him: “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, BUT MY FATHER WHO IS IN HEAVEN [18] And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build MY Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.Then the promise that the Pope will have FULL authority over the Dogmas of Christ’s Church [19] And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of Heaven. (See Isaiah 22:22 – the Keys to the Kingdom were given the Prime Minister by the Jewish King) And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, IT SHALL BE BOUND ALSO IN HEAVEN: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, IT SHALL BE LOOSED ALSO IN HEAVEN………

    Throughout the Old Testament the Jewish King always reigned with His Mother enthroned as Queen Mother beside Him.  She was called the  “Gebirah”  (google it) That is why Our Lady is “Queen of Heaven”  because in true Davidic/ Judaic style, her Son is King.  As in the Old Testament, the Prime Minister has FULL authority whilst the King is away from His Kingdom, and FULL power to Govern and “Bind and loose” the laws of how that Kingdom is run.  It is all there in Scripture.  

    OLD TESTAMENT — Old Order

    Pre Davidic King times  Order of authority

    1:Almighty God 
    2:Prime Minister = Moses – he ruled from “Moses Seat”
    3:A “cabinet” of 12 other people taken from the 12 Tribes governed the remaining Israelites under Moses’ authority

    Then with the coming of the Kingship of David  the Old Order became
    1:Davidic King Enthoned in Jerusalem
    2:Prime Minister 
    3:Cabinet of 11 under Ministers

    New Testament – Old order continues

    1: Davidic King – Christ
    2: Prime Minister = St Peter (All succeeding Popes) “Chair of Moses” becomes “See of Peter”
    3: 11 other under Ministers (or Disciples)
    So influential has this method of rule been throughout History that the UK Parliamentary System was set up in the same way.

    I’ll leave YOU to work out what the NEW Order is……..

  • Sweetjae

    Don’t worry in about 30 years time England and the rest of Europe will be under the Crescent Flag, you will be very busy obeying the Sharia Law that you won’t have time to blame and disobey Vatican II.

  • Sweetjae

    Yah practically the whole Council itself. You should also blame Florence, Constance, Lateran and Trent as well for all the schism and great apostasy during the last 1000 years.

  • nytor

    It does take a while to get used to it. I used to go to the TLM occasionally, when it was on in the evenings for transferred feasts, but since my church made the solemn high TLM the main Sunday morning mass I have gone every Sunday and now I’m perfectly comfortable with it and vastly prefer it to the NO. However I’m still not comfortable with Low Mass as I have been to so few of those.

  • nytor

    Ah, “Wir Sind Kirche”. From a Catholic headteacher. No wonder the Church is in such a mess.

  • nytor

    Which particular “directives” do you disagree upon? In some areas there is room for debate, granted – but in others, to question the Church makes you a heretic. Which are you?

  • Benedict Carter

    ” … The theology of the Mass has not changed at all ..”

    This is plain nonsense.

  • JabbaPapa

    No, it’s the truth — Revelation is eternal, not affected by this or that historical contingency.

  • Holly

    I think it is very important that Catholic children understand that dogma is immutable.  Pope Benedict has made a good decision about reintroducing the tridentine Mass. Generations of our children have been deprived of one of our wonderful cultural manifestations of worship.Vatican 2 has produced a lot of sadness and pain imo.

  • JabbaPapa

    Cripes you’re blinkered …

  • JabbaPapa

    You have a pretty bizarre fantasy image of Europe — are you trying to invent in your mind some justification for continuing US interventionism into the affairs of other independent Nation States ??? — in fact, the majority of “muslim” youth in Europe care not a jot about the islamic religion.

    Sure, in the various ghettos that have been built here and there things may be different, but generally speaking, the only people who care about Islam in Europe are immigrant men of retirement age from the Maghreb.

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