Friday, August 31, 2007

That Damned Fool Sutch

Posh friends of mine suggest Dom Anthony as a replacement for the Archbishop of Westminster, I suspect they really mean as a replacement for Cardinal Hume. I always cringe at the thought without actually knowing why. I think it is that he strikes me as being too self-conscious, too good a dinner companion, too worldly wise and he says too many damned foolish things, the following, is an extract from the Times it does nothing to change my opinion. It is a flagrant affront to the dignity of the Sacrament of Penance, it strikes me that this even worse than the story of the Edinburgh priests hearing confessions as part of the festival.
Forgotten to recycle any newspapers or tin cans recently? Feeling guilty because you neglected to carbon offset your flight to somewhere, anywhere, outside England this summer?
The Roman Catholic Church is at hand with a new line in “green confessions” to help eco-sinners to find forgiveness.
Dom Anthony Sutch, the Benedictine monk who resigned as head of Downside School to become a parish priest in Suffolk, will be at the county’s Waveney Greenpeace festival this weekend to hear eco-confessions in what is thought to be the first dedicated confessional booth of its kind.
Vested in a green chasuble-style garment made from recycled curtains, and in a booth constructed of recycled doors, he will hear the sins of of those who have not recycled the things they ought to have done and who have consumed the things they ought not to have done.

14 comments:

Anne-Marie said...

I wish you had a 'point and laugh' smiley I could use at this point...

Henry said...

I hate seeing clergy make a show of themselves in this way, trying to make political points. I wonder how much petrol he used carry all that junk around instead of using the confessional in his church.

A few years ago we had a crib made of cardboard boxes. I am not sure how that helped the homeless. Or how it helped anyone to understand what causes homelessness or perhaps cause action that might have reduced it.

Emotional codswallop. So perhaps he really will be the Cardinal's successor

The Brighton Gardener said...

That's a disgrace.

Dr. Peter H. Wright said...

Here we go again.
First it was the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Now, it's the Waveney Greenpeace Festival, where a slightly eccentric monk, Dom Antony Sutch, dressed in recycled curtains, will hear "green confessions" in a confessional made from recycled doors, where people can confess to having committed "eco-sins".

Is it a joke ?
Apparently, yes.
(If you think it's funny.)

Local Councillor, Rupert Reed, describes it as "a bit of a laugh".
The organiser of the Festival, Graham Elliott, expects people will "treat it in a light hearted way".

Harmless fun, then ?
Well, no. Not exactly.
A Catholic priest is going to play the part of the eco-confessor.

Now, that sounds to me like a parody of the Sacrament of Penance.

I'm all for a laugh in this miserable world of ours.
I have a lively sense of the ridiculous.
And a rather wicked (or so I'm told) sense of humour.

But somehow I just can't see the funny side of this.

Perhaps some kind soul can tell me what's funny about it.

White Stone Name Seeker said...

Father please could you put a carbon footprint in his chasable.
*sigh*

leutgeb said...

I'm with the Brighton Gardener. I thought he was quite sensible.

Mater mari said...

Leaving aside the potty idea of eco-confessions, is it appropriate to make unpleasant and scurrilous remarks about a fellow priest (or indeed, anyone) whom you have never met? Are blogs exempt from the practice of charity?
Dom Antony's mother, of whom he often writes fondly, used to live in the same parish as us. One day (c 1980) the parish priest came round clutching an envelope containing £100 to buy a tumble dryer. He was adamant that the donor wished to remain anonymous but some years later I discovered that our benefactor was Mrs Sutch. Yes, she was posh (is that a sin, incidentally?) but she was extremely generous to one of the poorest families in the parish who were bringing up ten children (including one profoundly handicapped) on a meagre income. On his visits to the parish Dom Antony was discreet, reverent, kind and charitable.
Is it not true that it behoves us all, priests and laymen, to hate the sin but unfailngly love the sinner?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Mater mari,
I appologise if you think I am being scurrilous, obviously I do not agree.
As for being uncharitable, I think that I would be being uncharitable to allow this very foolish action of Dom Anthony to pass without strong criticism. It is dangerously foolish and misleading, it makes a mockery of the sacrament. It is purely Dom Anthony's whim, there is too much of priestly whim.
I really do not think that priests who seek the public eye, should be encouraged by the silence of others. We can sin, or co-operate in sin, by silence

As for his mother's generosity to those in need, I would expect it from those who have money to spare. I am sure any parish priest would have countless stories about the extreme generosity of people far less well off than Dom Anthony's mother.

Mater mari said...

Of course you have the right to condemn Dom Antony's actions, assuming that the Telegraph report is accurate.
But describing him as " ...too self-conscious, too good a dinner companion, too worldly wise ..." is to calumniate a fellow priest about whose life you appear to know very little.

Dr. Peter H. Wright said...

I wonder if Father Ray will allow me a second comment :

I am sure the mother of Dom Antony Sutch was an excellent lady.

But I really don't think we can "leave aside the potty idea of eco-confessions", as Mater Mari suggests.

This is not one of those TV sketches by the comedian Dave Allen which we can laugh at / ignore/ be offended by, according to our individual taste.

It is a parody of a Sacrament instituted by Christ. In this case, the central role is played not by an actor, but by a Catholic priest.

Certainly, let all things be said in charity (if possible), but defending the Sacred is invariably the most charitable thing to do.

We can ignore a foolish prank, but not a scandalous act. And when a Catholic priest lends his name to such a stunt, he unfortunately causes scandal.

My old grandmother would often quote St. Paul's famous words to the Galatians :
"God is not mocked."

That is where any debate should be coming from, it seems to me.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Mater mari,
I hadn't realised The Telegraph had run this story as well.

What I said was in the context of Dom Anthony's name being mentioned in the context of being a successor to the Archbishop of Westminster. Many people in England and Wales are rather concerned that the appointment of bishops depends a little too much on belonging to "the establishment", or on who one knows and is known by, and on whether one moves within the right social cirlce than on one's attachment to the Church's teaching.

nickbris said...

This is an insult to probably the most important part of our religion.It gives more ammunition to the likes of Dawkins.The Sacraments should be kept sacred not objects of fun for the benefit of the ECO-NUTS

Mater mari said...

Mea culpa;for Telegraph read Times.

With regard to sacraments being mocked I entirely agree with all that has been said, although I would like to hear Dom Antony's view directly; we are all aware of media manipulation against the Church.

I concur too with any condemnation of choosing the next Archbishop of Westminster according to his perceived social status. I used to think that the Holy Spirit had a hand in these appointments but sadly I'm becoming more cynical with advancing age.

I can only reiterate my basic point that we can - and must - condemn the sin but love the sinner.

Richard said...

Father,

Sorry for hopping onto an old thread, but I wonder if you read the letter by Dom Antony Sutch in today's Telegraph?

I didn't really know who he was, so I "Googled" his name - and when your blog post came up first I thought that I would probably find a pithy, accurate comment on him.

As for his letter (see below), the final paragraph must be true (although I am never really sure what "agape" means). And yes, Christmas is "is a feast celebrating the absolute priority of love manifested in flesh". But surely by that means the fleshy, the "transient", has been sanctified. So what is inappropriate about families celebrating it by sharing food and fellowship?

To come back to one of your more recent posts, is Dom Anthony's attidude a good example of Pelagianism?

Letter below:

SIR – I am sometimes accosted and informed that “Christians have highjacked Christmas”. Personally, I would be delighted if we spurned the sleighs and reindeer as well as the Father Christmases, plum puddings, mince pies and other frippery associated with the miraculous feast day.

It is a feast celebrating the absolute priority of love manifested in flesh. It is about the beauty of mankind, the glory and power of the human spirit, compassion, the involvement of all creation in mutual care and concern. It is not about the tawdry, the narcissistic, the self-indulgent and the transient.

Every child born is of God and worthy of dignity, respect and agape. Millions starve, suffer and die, something of which to be ashamed. We are unworthy of Christ, yet he loved us.

Dom Antony Sutch
Beccles, Suffolk