Saturday, 7 April 2018

CHURCH CHANGE AND POPE FRANCIS

TODAY'S BLOG IS A LITTLE LONG AND NOT FOR THOSE ONLY LEARNING TO READ :-)

BUT IS AN IMPORTANT EXAMINATION OF THE CRISIS THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH FINDS ITSELF IN.

I THINK IT IS BOTH A VERY INTERESTING AND CHALLENGING READ.



To Change the Church: 
Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism 
by Ross Douthat

by Ross Douthat - Simon and Schuster, 256 pages, $26
A BOOK REVIEW BY PROFESSOR RICHARD REX OF CAMBRIDGE


PROFESSOR RICHARD REX
It is beyond question that the Roman Catholic Church is currently in the throes of one of the greatest crises in its two-millennium history. In human terms, its future might be said to be in doubt for the first time since the Reformation. The broad contours of the present crisis are the onward march of secularization in Europe and North America, the purging of Christians from the ancient heartlands of the Middle East, and the erosion of South American Catholicism by the missions of the Protestant and prosperity gospels. More specifically, the horrific and continuing revelations of the sexual and physical abuse of the vulnerable by the clergy, and of the failure of the institutional Church to identify and address the issue, have in some places turned a Catholic retreat into a rout. The dramatic and utterly unforeseen collapse of Catholicism in Ireland in little more than a generation, for example, harks back to the tectonic religious shifts of the early sixteenth century. Only in Africa is there much by way of good news, and it is not always clear how good that news is.
The crisis has come as a shock. No such prospect could have been in the mind of John XXIII in 1959 when he announced his plans for a Second Vatican Council. At that moment, the postwar triumph of liberal democracy in Western politics and of American Catholicism in the Church seemed to mark the final resolution of a dialectic that had dominated Western history since the French Revolution. For much of that era, a version of political liberalism that was often tempted to prefer freedom from religion to freedom of religion had regularly found itself in conflict with a resurgent and counterrevolutionary Roman Catholicism. The rise of totalitarianism, which was defeated in the form of Nazism but briefly triumphed in the form of Marxist Leninism, fostered the emergence of a politically liberal Catholicism that, in the aftermath of global conflict, produced the European project and Vatican II. As long as the Soviet Empire endured, Christianity and liberalism coexisted in a measure of harmony. It was an era in which popular images of the Catholic priesthood were shaped by Cardinal Mindszenty rather than Cardinal Law, by Don Camillo rather than Father Ted. John Paul II, socially conservative but politically liberal, symbolized this brief and, as it turned out, unstable synthesis. The rapid rise of social liberalism threatened this equilibrium, and with the end of the Cold War, signs could once more be seen of the return of a more resolutely anticlerical liberalism along nineteenth-century lines, though formulated in the new language of universal human rights. Social liberalism is founded upon a very different ethic from Christianity, and the increasing tension between these two bodies of doctrine is the cause of the contemporary crisis of Catholicism in the West.
The rival narratives that liberals and conservatives have put forward about the state of the Church since Vatican II might be labeled “the darkening of the rosy dawn” and the “trahison des clercs.” For the liberals, the blissful promise of aggiornamento was broken by the bureaucratic apparatus of the Vatican and the long pontificate of John Paul II, dedicated to turning back the tide of modernity. For the conservatives, the reasonable accommodations with modernity hammered out at Vatican II in the 1960s were turned into a program of change for change’s sake during the 1970s, inspiring apostasy on an epic scale, with the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI staunching the flow and restoring a semblance of stability. (Douthat’s third narrative, by the way, is simply the observation that the first two narratives have coexisted uneasily since Vatican II: true enough, but analytically it adds little to the first two.) These rival narratives underpin rival diagnoses of the present crisis and rival proposals for treatment. The liberal prescription is to throw open more windows. The conservative prescription is to put up the shutters. The Francis Project fits into these two perspectives in very different ways. For the liberals, it is a second spring. The winds of change, stilled for a pontificate or two, are once more swirling around curial cassocks. For the conservatives, it is a threatening summer, with the distant puff of smoke that signals brushfire.
Douthat is surely correct in his judgment that the liberal prescription has little to recommend it. In no historical or institutional church has an increasing alignment with modern or postmodern values and mores arrested numerical and demographic decline. The liberal path looks as though it leads out of the Church rather than into it. However, the observation that conservative institutions and movements within the Church have bucked the trend, though superficially plausible, may on further consideration offer little consolation. The evidence is more anecdotal than statistical, and it is certainly having little impact on the big picture. Moreover, as Douthat shrewdly notes in his preface, much of the liberal critique of religious conservatism strikes powerfully home. There can be a fractiousness and an impermeable complacency about much conservative discourse, especially in the new media, that is redolent not so much of traditional Catholicism as of the fissile sectarianism, rugged individualism, and downright anti-intellectualism that characterize so much of American culture, from its religious sects through conspiracy theories to the weird world of the survivalists. When one reads the rival commentaries, one comes away with the view that when things go wrong, liberals never want to admit it, while conservatives just love it.
Which brings us back to the Francis Project, which can best be seen as a crisis within a crisis, a skirmish in the broader culture wars of the late modern West. The nub of the issue is the Catholic Church’s absolute, inflexible, and perennial insistence on the indissolubility of marriage: “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder” (Matt. 19:6). It is Pope Francis’s evident wish for divorced and remarried Catholics to be admitted to Communion after some appropriate process of penitential reconciliation that has whipped up such a debate. This wish, which he shares with the liberal wing of the Church, is taken by conservatives as a de facto break with the Church’s hitherto almost unbroken stand against divorce (understood, for present purposes, as the termination of a valid marriage which leaves the parties free to contract new and equally valid marriages). Is it a gathering hurricane, or just a storm in a teacup?
Obviously, if the conservative analysis of the pope’s position is correct, then the present crisis in the Church, however small it might seem, is one of the gravest in its entire history. Here there is a certain value in Douthat’s comparisons with the Arian and Jansenist crises, though the social and political contexts of those episodes are so very different both from each other and from our time that such comparisons can hardly aspire to analytical rigor. But they make some sense on the mystical or metaphysical level. The Arian and Jansenist crises were each episodes in the two greatest crises in Christian history. The first of these was the one that gripped the Church from the Council of Nicaea to the Council of Chalcedon and beyond. This was an agonized and church-rending argument over the question, “What is God?” The second great crisis was that of the Reformation (of which Jansenism, an elite fad, was a kind of backwash or eddy within the Church); it was an agonized and church-rending argument over the question, “What is the Church?” Our crisis, at least as great as those, is all about a question that would once have been expressed as “What is man?” The fact that this wording is now itself seen as problematic is a symptom of the very condition it seeks to diagnose. What is it, in other words, to be human?
The little debate in the Catholic Church about Communion for the divorced and remarried is a microcosm, then, of a much broader argument about the nature of humanity, human life, and human sexuality. The current tensions within Catholicism reflect changes and tensions in Western culture as a whole, relating to an entire alphabet of beliefs and practices: abortion, bisexuality, contraception, divorce, euthanasia, family, gender, homosexuality, infertility treatment . . . Western society is moving in a very different direction from Catholicism on all these issues. Not from Catholics—from Catholicism. Opinion polls seem to indicate that, while lagging some way behind, opinion among those identifying as Catholic is shifting on almost all these issues in the direction set by society at large. This is a moral shift of an epochal nature. But whatever individual Catholics may think, the new moral consensus, or at least spectrum, is utterly irreconcilable with Catholicism. If Catholicism were to reconcile itself to the new moral order of Western society, then it would be abandoning its past, its tradition, and thus its identity. It would give up its claim to truth and, therefore, its claim upon our faith.
That said, as Douthat observes, Catholicism will certainly adapt, as it has always done. But its adaptation will be constrained and controlled by its divine mission and by its fidelity to the saving truth that is handed down to be handed on. It will adapt as far as it can to secure toleration or to mitigate discrimination in the emerging social order of the West. Catholics, qua Catholics, may find it increasingly hard to withstand the pressures of modernity, which have already eliminated the social model of the parish bequeathed to us from medieval Europe, just as they have corroded and dissolved so many of the other social and communal structures and institutions that used to sustain European and American ways of life.
Given the challenges posed to the moral message of Catholicism by the emerging social order, liberal Catholics from the pope downward need to be very careful what they wish for. Conditional access to Communion for the divorced and remarried might seem to them merely a question of ecclesiastical discipline. None of them imagines for a moment that they are undermining the Church’s teaching on marriage; nor have they any intention of doing so. They are motivated by a laudable desire to keep people within the ambit of sacramental grace in these spiritually troubled times. Yet if this move should turn out as conservatives fear, if it should trip over itself into some attempted revision of the fundamental Catholic doctrine of marriage, then it would be a step on the high road to schism.
Conservative Catholics, however, likewise need to be careful. They may fear that the pope might undermine fundamental doctrine on marriage. But some seem almost to relish the prospect. Contrary to widespread belief, the Church is not infallible in all matters. The Church enjoys, in a very restricted context, a privilege of guidance by the Holy Spirit that protects it against defining what is false in Christian doctrine or morality as a truth to be held by all Christians. It cannot require Catholics to believe what is false, but that does not prevent it from committing countless other kinds of errors. The dreadful revelations of the abuse crisis put that beyond doubt. The definition (and hence limitation) of infallibility is most helpfully seen as a providential dispensation that has allowed the Church to admit its numerous mistakes and crimes in the vast areas of human endeavor not guaranteed by infallibility. The pope may well get what he wants. It may well be that traditional teaching on marriage will be compromised in practice by pastoral concessions that some will see as mere laxism—as was once the case with dueling among old Europe’s bloated nobility. The Church inevitably bends to some degree before the winds of change. But one must not rush to judgment or to despair.
It looks as though the position for Catholics in the West may become more difficult in the near future. There are already calls in Britain and Europe to exclude from the medical professions persons who are unwilling to perform abortions or to collaborate in their organization or provision. A number of Catholic charities in Britain found they could no longer lawfully provide adoption services on account of their incapacity, for reasons of conscience, to offer children for adoption by same-sex couples. The exclusion of Rocco Buttiglione from high public office in the European Union in 2004 on grounds tied directly to his religious beliefs is indeed unlikely to be repeated—for who would be so foolish as to propose what we might call a “public” Catholic for such a public office again? That is how discrimination works. Subaltern groups learn their allotted position in society, and a degree of complicity in it can become the condition of their continued tenure of that position. The fact that such discrimination, were it to arise, would be carried out in the name of equality and nondiscrimination would lend it not only piquancy but almost irresistible social power and legitimacy. 
In such a world, it would be for Catholics to learn from the counsel and example of Thomas More. If you cannot achieve the good, as he said in Utopia, then you can at least try to secure the least harm. For him, participation in public life was all about advising the sovereign, the king. And that could mean showing some tact and diplomacy. Today, the people are sovereign, and participation in politics therefore means advising the people. It turns out that the people en masse are as willful and prone to flattery as any Tudor monarch. In such a world, we should also remember More’s example. We don’t need to go looking for trouble. We can let it come to find us, and hope it passes us by. But if and when it does find us, then we have to look to conscience and steer by the stars of justice and truth.
What we might bear in mind, if we are disturbed by the policies of the leaders of the Church in such a situation, is that the duties of conscience apply just as much to our relationship with the Church as to our relationship with the state. If our leaders fail, then we should criticize, appropriately and helpfully. If they need to be reminded of the truths that have been entrusted to them, then it is our duty to remind them. There may well be, there certainly will be—as there certainly have been only too recently—abuses within the Church and failures by its leaders. Faith in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church requires us to soldier on, minding our consciences, upholding the truth out of love, and avoiding evil and false doctrine.
If, however, the Catholic Church were indeed to abandon or reverse the almost total opposition to divorce that it has maintained across two millennia, then its claim to be the privileged vehicle of divine revelation on moral issues would be, quite simply, shattered. The position of the Church on the indissolubility of marriage is among the most consistent of its traditions. Its scriptural basis is, frankly, stronger than that for the doctrine of the Trinity, for the observance of Sunday as the day of rest, or for the real presence in the Eucharist. To all intents and purposes, it is a mark of the Church. Nor should this claim be theologically surprising. Marriage, as Paul taught, symbolizes the union of Christ and his Church (Eph. 5:31–32). For Christians, the indissolubility of marriage is integral to its symbolic—that is, its sacramental—place in the economy of salvation. If it is terminable, then it can no longer symbolize that perfect union between the head and the body of Christ.
If, after all, marriage is not a divine union of male and female in one flesh, dissolved only by the inevitable dissolution of that flesh in death, then the Catholic Church has, in the name of Christ, needlessly tormented the consciences of untold numbers of the faithful for twenty centuries. If this teaching were to be modified in the name of mercy, then the Church would already have been outdone in mercy not only by most other religions but even by the institutions and impulses of the modern secular state. Such a conclusion would definitively explode any pretension to moral authority on the part of the Church. A church which could be so wrong, for so long, on a matter so fundamental to human welfare and happiness could hardly lay claim to decency, let alone infallibility.

78 comments:

  1. The weather is meant to be good for the week. great stretch in the evenings as well. wont find till the kids are off school. my head will be wrecked.

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    1. 00.24
      Hijack at least an hour alone for yourself each day and get stuck into a good book - - maybe an Agatha Christie murder mystery - - anything that you can get totally lost in .. 1t would do you a power of good.. I promise you and read in as quiet a place as you can find. Lovely and peaceful....

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  2. Hi pat. I began to read your posting but gave up half way through. I know this is your blog and it's up to you what you post and don't post but I have to ask you as I asked during the week. Is there any chance you can post less copy and paste items and give us postings entirely in your own words. I am sure what you might have to say would be more interesting and often easier to understand. T.K.73.

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    1. Like Magna, Pat is not a man to use one word where ten would do!

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  3. An interesting review, Pat. There is a sense of schism in the air. I have felt a deep divide on many issues for the past 30 years. Perhaps it is opening up now. I hope any discussion which might involve questioning some of the decisions of the present pope will not be hijacked by either side. If we could all leave out the fawning to the pope on one hand and the latino quips on the other, it might ensure a balanced and positive discussion.

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  4. Biggest challenge since Reformation? Probably. However it is not as easy to control the masses. The sad thing is that so many stay quiet about their choices and this adds to the tension. Divorced people doing penance and being reconciled?. This implies they have done something wrong and puts the law above the person.

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    1. Sean Page, why are you still so interested in Catholicism? You are an Anglican now so why keep sticking your nose into Catholic matters? You are an apostate - get over it! We can’t take your posts remotely seriously given your history.

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    2. Anglican are Catholics too - just not Roman.

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    3. 10.43 The attitude portrayed in the comment is exactly what the church needs to get away from. Why do I stick my nose in? Because I can and its a free country. la la la la la. Debate encourages challenge and growth

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    4. " ... unam, sanctam, cathólicam et apostólicam Ecclésiam ... ". All Christians are Catholic in the sense that the Nicene Creed uses the word.

      The Roman Catholic Church's problem is that its clergy still insist on seeing it, and themselves, as the voice of God.

      And Richard Rex seems to concur in that error.

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    5. Quite right, Sean. There's no apartheid on the internet in so far as we can say what we like within the law.

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    6. Exactly Joe. I get involved because I respect my heritage and see it as part of who I am. Is there a move on here to get rid of ecumenism in the R C Church or are are some people just scared jealous or both.

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    7. 10:43 Apostasy is neither the appropriate nor the correct word. It refers to someone who has abandoned Christianity for another religion - clearly not remotely the case for Reverend Page, a priest of the C. of E.
      If your intention is to be derogatory you will need to find a reason. This false claim won't do.

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    8. Prof Rex left out a fundamental factor for the crisis, not just in institutional RCC, but Roman Catholicism itself. And it isn't the march of secularization in Europe and in North America, nor is it the advance of Protestantism in South America; nor, surprisingly, is it the avalanche of sexual abuse scandals among the clergy. Yes, these have all played their parts, but the principal character was universal education, in particular, the growth in third-level education in the second half of the 20th century.

      Ignorance, superstition and fear (in this order) are the hallmarks of almost any uneducated society. When people are superstitious they are afraid. And frightened people are more easily controlled.

      The history of Roman Catholicism shows that fear among Catholic populations generated submissiveness to clergy, and submissive people are less likely to be critical, to see the flaws, both personally and institutionally.

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    9. 17.06 There is one other critical factor in the crisis which is often left out as it is so subtle and deceptive yet so powerful - the constant division caused by the media as they look to make as much capital and money as possible out of a human or institutional crisis.

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    10. A very good point, 20:16. You are absolutely right: information about the Church is filtered through various media and whatever prejudices, both for and against, they have. But without the growth in personal education, especially at third level (and the corresponding reduction in ignorance, superstition, and fear) all media, including social media, would be far less powerful, far less persuasive.

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    11. 10.43
      ‘Apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith.’

      CCC 2089; CIC 751

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  5. A very thought provoking article, one which should illicit intelligent, rational debate. I'll need to parse through it again but I hope Pat you will ensure that contributors keep to the issue and nit use this essay to hurl abuse as argument. I'll reflect on it and make my comments. So much in it that deserves intelligent, careful consideration. Make sure it's not hijacked to be used for personal vendettas. Thanks.

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    1. 7.50 Excellent point about personal vendettas. "whoever he thinks he is" I believe is not one of my best admirers. I do not bear the person ill will and wish them well whoever they are.

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    2. “He is”? What’s to prove he is not a she Mr Page.

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  6. This article is very challenging, not for allowing us to delight in what seems inevitable, the demise of present day Catholicism and the flow of many if its adherents into freer, more spontaneous, happier and joyful expressions of Christianity. There is a huge challenge for the Church. After almost 40 years of ministry I have witnessed falling numbers, people who, once very loyal, no longer join our community, apart from special moments. They are good people and I do not know why they have drifted away. Some are just indifferent, others apathetic but I believe we are no longer able to connect up meaningfully with the expectations, lifestyles, struggles and difficulties of modern living. Also, a determining factor for many is the ongoing revelations of sexual abuse and cover up by clergy and leadership. The shift required to reconnect meaningfully and creatively is almost beyond an ageing and tired (of vision) priesthood and church. Just looking after the day to day routines, management and pastoral tasks, schools etc..is draining and leaves little time for a more creative, imaginative approach. Much has changed socially, culturally, morally, politically, economically, intellectually that people resource themselves to face the big questions without the need to belong to an institutional church. Many such people are very often good Christians but do not see the need to be part of a celebrating, praying, believing community. Pope Francis is endeaviuring to present a more welcoming, caring, compassionate Church where we are called to see Jesus in all whom we encounter but also to imitate him. That's the challenge - holding on to revealed truths, traditions and inherited teachings that are seen as out of touch with the spiritual needs and hungers of modern searchers and presenting more inspiring scripts. For quite some time I've reflected on this challenge, on how I can renew my vision, energy, understanding of priesthood and the ideal christian community (if such exists!) and make all relevant for myself before I be relevant again for others. It is a new journey for me personally that I fear will overwhelm me, disabling any meaningful contribution I might make, as was possible in the not too distant past. However, f
    for now I try to remain steadfast in what's entrusted to my care and try to remain hopeful. It is Easter and the gospel today is hope-filled. The Spirit is given to us all to continue keeping the memory of Jesus alive and sacred.

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    1. 09;15. I am typical of the person you describe. Like a considerable number of my friends I only attend church on high feasts or rites of passage, funerals,weddings etc ( although the last 3 weddings of the children of catholic friends were non religious and in hotels)
      In short the Catholic Church has nothing to offer me. I no longer trust it. For years it fed me and indoctrinated me with information which did not nourish me spiritually but was used to control my thinking, under pain of guilt.
      The scandals and the hierarchy cover up showed me that the church was about prestige, wealth and control.
      I have not lost my faith. My faith in God and my code for living a good life is very much intact. It’s my faith in the institutional Catholic Church which has been eroded. I don’t follow or adhere to any organised religious group now. I am very much at peace with a god that I can chat to at any hour without following a set of rules which I believe are more to do with politics and control.
      It saddens me that many fine priests are trapped in their mission. Trapped by a system which has them in its clutches socially and economically. Their purpose of ministry is eroded by the very organisation they represent and with no new message or refreshing of the offering they have to people like me they must feel so dispirited.
      I am one of whom you speak. I wish you well.

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  7. The section on Ireland particularly saddens me. In a generation we have lost the established Church as we know it.

    We must always remember though that the Church since the days of Jesus has always been in a state of flux and evolving. The rigid structures of the Catholic Church are an attempt at holding onto and controlling the movement of God on the Earth.

    We fight against it and are very afraid when change happens. Change is inevitable though.

    People have not abandoned a spiritual need though: for example in many places in Ireland now young people are flocking to Yoga style retreats to ingest psychedelic herbs and vines. Guiding them to some kind of inner peace and or revelation.

    These are the actions of people who are so starving to see a bit of God that they will risk their health to attempt to fill the void.

    These are the people we need to reach out to. If we show them a little bit of the Love as seen in the Gospels they will flock in their thousands to grasp it once again.

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    1. Yes, Ireland is sadly highlighted and the abuse of minors and the cover ups has not helped. Nobody in the Church is willing to speak out and Clergy just want to keep their heads down. This is fuelling resentment against the Church and many are turning away from it particularly the younger generation. We need Clergy with a bit of back bone to speak out but they are all afraid.

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    2. 'Clergy just want to keep their heads down', 10:51? Which is another way of expressing what I said on yesterday's blog: that there can be no such thing as a good Roman Catholic priest.

      These men owe their allegiance, not to mention their living, to Rome through their bishops. And Rome demands loyalty through obedience.

      These clergy are doing what Roman Catholic priests have generally and always done: refused to rock Peter's baroque.

      As I said, there can be no such thing as a good (morally virtuous and courageous) priest; there can be only good people.

      The exercise of moral goodness requires freedom to act, and Roman Catholic priests are not so free, since they surrendered this freedom to the Roman w***e on the day they ordained as her pimps.

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    3. 'Refused to rock Peter's baroque'? Baroque what? Silly moo!

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    4. Did not a Priest speak out last week over Bishop Boyce’s appointment to Dromore? I think in doing so he was castigated and many personal remarks were levelled at him. He had the balls to speak out but people rubbished him on this blog. Perhaps that’s why priests don’t speak out more often.

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    5. Leave the troll at 13:50 to the Lord. He will sort that troll out and settle it in good time.

      It “waxes worse and worse” (2 Timothy 3:13) because it has an audience here and it craves attention.

      Let it spew and vituperate. It will choke on its own venom finally and then the Lord will sort it out.

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    6. 16.r0 Magna, you bastsrdo of a w***e with your imbecilic, childish, ignorant ways. Poor chap! Drink is ruining any decency you may have. Baroque - wrong spelling....

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    7. 17:54, you're more peculiar than even I.😲

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  8. Pat, at 23:23 last night, the guy who calls himself “Magna Carta” referred to your book ‘A Spiritual Life. A Sexual Life’.

    I too read your book when it came out some years back.

    As a survivor of sexual abuse in childhood, I was interested in your description of being sexually abused at the age of six.

    I was even younger when I was sexually abused by a frequent visitor to our home. I was aged 3 to 7 when it happened.

    I am puzzled genuinely that you didn’t remember the name of the young man aged 18 who abused you and that you felt it necessary for him to have “a nice name”? You called him “Aidan”.

    You described him as blond-haired and so on - you described semen - so your memories are vivid enough. Also, this “Aidan” was also a frequent visitor to your family.

    Do none of your other brothers and sisters remember him? Did your parents not remember him? If he frequented the house and did errands on a regular basis then surely someone in your family must know who he is?

    What became of him? Did he abuse others? A huge amount of sexual abuse is perpetrated by boys/young men in their late teens, like “Aidan”, against young children - boys and girls.

    Sorry, I don’t mean to be objectionable in any way but this has always puzzled me. I vividly recall my abuser and the name.

    Also, why “a nice name”? What “Aidan” did to you was horrific. What’s the “nice” about?

    I say these things to you respectfully as a fellow survivor.

    Jack

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    1. Jack, The man who abused me was an 18 year old grocery delivery man who also babysat us. It happened when I was 6 - 59 years ago and I do not remember his name.

      I was the oldest of 17 children and by the time I was 6 there were 5 other babies behind me.

      There were two aspects to my abuse - my abusers niceness when he singled me out for special attention and gifts - and the other strange things he did to me that I did not understand at all.

      Wnen I was 8 - 2 years after my abuse we moved 60 miles away to Dublin.

      And of course I kept my abuse as a shameful secret until I was in my 20s.

      The "nice name" was because of the attention and gifts he gave me. I was the oldest and had already being pushed on and out by the five that came behind me.

      I can only be honest when I say that while his departure from my life was the end of the abuse it was also the end of my special friend. The human mind in very complex and as a lonely child I distinctly remembering a certain sense of loss at the loss of attention - however inappropriate it was.

      I cannot make up my abuse story to suit the normal narrative of 100% victim.

      I felt what I felt.

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    2. That explains it Pat. Thanks! Jack

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  9. A really interesting book review/essay by the Professor of Reformation History at Cambridge University. I like the contrasts where he says the solution offered by liberals is to open the windows of the Church still wider, while conservatives want them bolted shut. I wonder who's right?

    I also laughed when he said that liberals deny there are any problems in the Church right now, and conservatives rejoice in them.

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    1. Paradoxically both are right, because are wrong.

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    2. Thank you. Please would you expand on your comment?

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    3. You, Magna, at 12:57. Thanks.

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    4. 13:30 you've obviously not read Newman. He didn't mean that at all.

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    5. 08:08, both are correct because, unless each party gets its way, some of those like-minded will leave the Church.

      Both are wrong because their interests are self- (rather then other) motivated.

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  10. The author of this screed bases his argument on the claim that the Catholic Church has always been inflexibly opposed to divorce, making this an article by which the Church stands or falls. In fact, however, the Church blesses divorce under the Pauline and Petrine privileges (as well as being generous in offering annulments), so all this hysteria about a footnote in Amoris Laetitia is misplaced (and is really motivated by hate of modern culture with its new awareness about gender and homosexuality).

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    1. If a lot of marriages between unbaptised and baptised were happening there would be a lot of divorces approved by the Church. It is true that the rule against divorce is not about protecting marriage but about discriminating against the unbaptised. Baptism and what it stands for is one of the biggest disgraces in society. It even pretends God has to be put into the baby and God accepts no baby until it gets a dip in the font. The doctrine fomented much racism in the past as say blacks tended to be not baptised.

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    2. And the church would have given Henry VIII his divorce too, if there were not some political considerations weighing against it at the time.

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    3. 13:27, excellent post.

      Ritualistic (or 'sacramental') baptism is overrated for its exclusivity on grace, so much so that Augustine of Hippo, with characteristic smugness, declared that those who weren't baptised were damned post mortem.

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  11. Prof. Rex has ignored (or just not been aware of) a very long-standing Church doctrinal teaching that is every bit as threatening to belief in Church infallibility and decency as any compromise on its teaching on the indissolubility of marriage. And just like the teaching on marriage, it has impeccable gospel roots. What is it? Well, it is one of those teachings obviously too uncomfortable for the naturally assertive and rebellious human psyche and spirit: the fact that Jesus' message and lifestyle proclaimed non-violence as the only way for his followers. All that 'turn the other cheek' stuff, and similar non-aggression sentiments.

    If reversing (or just relaxing) traditional teaching on the indissolubility of marriage would, as conservatives may fear, weaken the Church's claim to doctinal authority and decency, then why hasn't this already happened with its anti-Gospel teaching on human violence? It hasn't happened because there is more to communal cohesion in the Church than these basic teachings. Yes, some may go into schism if Pope Francis' mercy outreach to divorced and remarried Catholics threatens traditional hardline teaching on marriage, but notbenough to collapse the Church. Schism and the Church historically go hand in hand, bitter enemies, but neither fatal to the other.

    Conservatives are such drama queens.

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    1. So why don’t you follow Jesus’ teachings on nonviolence and love then, Magna Carta, you hypocrite?

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    2. 13:38, I do try and, indeed, succeed more often than I fail. Unfortunately, these failings shout louder than their corresponding successes: they are noticed more quickly, and commented on much more eagerly, by people like... . Well, by people like you, actually.

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    3. 13:38 Don't engage MC. It's much easier to move down the page.

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    4. 13.38: Excellent question for Magna but as always, truth is beyond his capability when he's asked to account for his double standards, contradictions and hypocrisies. But perhaps we can guess the diatribe he'll produce if he answers.. .

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    5. 15:35, truth is not beyond my capability, but it does seem way beyond your understanding.

      I did account: I named my failings for what they were: failings. I didn't attempt to justify them. Unlike the RCC, which hypocritically makes doctrinal justification for its suppression of Jesus' clear teaching on non-violence. This is traceable aetiologically to that arch-hypocrite, Augustine of Hippo.

      If it could, the RCC would airbrush Jesus right out of salvation history. God knows it has tried! Has ANY Christian church more man-made doctrines than the RCC?

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    6. 16.23 Magna: The more you mouth off, the more you airbrush yourself out of history! You do not possess a capacity for truth, for a self truth that would make you a better human being. You come to life, poisonously so, when hatred, not truth, speaks through you. You never account for your disgusting, abusive, amoral behaviour.

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    7. 16.23: We should all agree to avoid that old queen herself, leader of the bitch pack, Magna. Just swipe past her comments of which we've had too many today. TRUTH - an alien concept to Mags....

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    8. Hello there, you two. How are you?😆

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    9. 12.53 I would rather run with conservatives like Padre Pio, Sr. Faustina, Sr. Lucy, John Paul II or Mother Teresa than people who are playing at mercy in order to be popular. And on non-violence I absolutely agree with Magna. Did not a catholic priest bless the atomic bomb dropped in Japan using the largest catholic cathedral in that country as its target from the air. I think Fr. Emmanuel McCarthy has done some great work in this area.

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    10. MC what do you do about Sunday worship? Do you go to Mass and Holy Communion? Do you go to Morning Service? Meeting Hall? Quaker Meeting? Evangelistic rally? Just curious.

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    11. Hey Magna .... up yer h*** with a big jam roll :-D

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    12. 12.53 Only two paragraphs two bypass.

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    13. 21:05, you, bastardo, have discovered my weakness: I absolutely LOVE jam roll. But, please, just make sure it hasn't been shoved up someone's hole before being shoved through the hole in my ...face😆

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    14. 00:02 Disgusting. Proof positive of a congenital psychological and personality imbalance. In light of which every comment appearing here under the same pseudonym needs to be interpreted and avoided.

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    15. It’s fine to display your conservative leanings @20.36. It’s a good and healthy exercise.


      However when you ascribe ulterior motives to those who disagree with you, that’s where you are wrong.

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    16. 12.22 The are not just conservative they are modern day saints. The people in the church who are causing the schism are not the conservatives.

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    17. Magna 00.02, drunk as usual. Disgusting comment by you. Be careful Magna, you may live to regret you foul mouthed rants and amoral rants. Get professional adfadfiction therapy asap!! You need it.

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  12. The doctrine of marriage is a core doctrine of the Church or THE core doctrine if you like. As the professor says, the indissolubility of marriage is clearer in the Bible than the Sunday Sabbath or the Trinity. But the Church does not really treat it as a core doctrine but as a political debate. Why is there no excommunication for defending same sex marriage? Why are annulments full of lies?

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    1. If the indissolubility of marriage 'is clearer in the Bible than the Sunday Sabbath (sic) or the Trinity', then so, too, is Jesus' teaching on non-violence. But that morally inconvenient fact has never troubled the Roman church too much. (Didn't popes once employ their own executioners, paying them, at one stage, 3 lire per decapitation?)

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    2. 13:30 Life is not as black and white as that. Even in the composition of the Gospels a change in understanding may be noticed. In the first Gospel to be written, Mark, there is an absolute prohibition on divorce. By the time the second and third Gospels comes to be written in one of them, Matthew, an exception to Mark's absolute rule appears. If nothing else this indicates that the issue of marriage breakdown has been with us for as long as Christianity itself.

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    3. 13.30: In what way are annulments full of lies? I know individuals whose entire life's story had to be told before getting an annullment. I don't believe there's any opportunity for lies.

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    4. 15:28, Matthew's gospel proves that marriage was most emhatically not always taught as being indissoluble; doctrine here has evolved, changed, and changed again into the moral and intellectual rigidity of traditional teaching. Tradition should not be the sole criterion of dogma.

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    5. 13.30 Doctrine develops, i.e. changes. J. H. Newman.

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  13. St. Paul (I Cor 7:10-15) was clearly aware of Jesus’ prohibition on divorce. Yet Paul introduced an exception to this prohibition when faced with the situation in Corinth where the problems of marital breakdown were the direct result of one partner converting to Christianity. It seems Paul wanted to ease the burden he perceived and took responsibility for the decision that it was permissible to separate and presumably remarry because he argued that ‘God has called you to live in peace’ (1 Cor 7:15).

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  14. I think I can explain the pretend Magna Carla's angst today. It all happened when he was at school and one day one of the nuns said that the Holy Father wanted to open the windows of the church. Little Magna took this to heart but you wouldn't believe the trouble it caused. The parish priest eventually had to have Magna sit in the confessional where there were no windows. The parishioners of his home parish to this day find it strange to hear Mass without a draft on their neck.
    In fact his obsession with Windows is the cause of his bitterness - so disappointed was he to find no mention of windows in the documents of Vatican 2. The betrayal has soured him and to this day he can't pass a Velux roof window without heaving a brick at it.

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  15. CH4 tonight at 8.00 p.m. . Documentary titled 'Jesus' Female Disciples: The New Evidence' .

    Should be fun.

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  16. Just watching it. Extremely interesting and logical

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  17. All very interesting, +Pat, but I'm sure you could've stretch KOB out a bit long.

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  18. +Pat owes us a good gay scandal for reading all that.

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  19. @21.28 and 21.51

    Both of you are an absolute disgrace.. No doubt about it.

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