Wednesday, November 19, 2008

PO'D does it again

At the end of October Bishop O'Donahue gave an interview to Zenit about his document Fit for Mission, in which he said that Catholic graduates are spreading scepticism and sowing dissent. The story still continues to rumble on, the former priest Nicholas Lash had a go in last weeks Tabet being characteristically silly by saying everything is alright from his Cambridge Ivory Tower, and yesterday the Telegraph took up the story.

I am a great believer in original texts, here is the relevant passage from the interview.

What we have witnessed in Western societies since the end of the Second World War is the development of mass education on a scale unprecedented in human history -- resulting in economic growth, scientific and technological advances, and the cultural and social enrichment of billions of people's lives.
However, every human endeavor has a dark side, due to original sin and concupiscence. In the case of education, we can see its distortion through the widespread dissemination of radical skepticism, positivism, utilitarianism and relativism. Taken together, these intellectual trends have resulted in a fragmented society that marginalizes God, with many people mistakenly thinking they can live happy and productive lives without him.
One of the great truths recognized by the Second Vatican Council is that the Church is part of human history and culture. Therefore, it shouldn't surprise us that the shadows cast by the distortion of education, and corresponding societal changes, have also touched members of the Church. As Pope Benedict XVI puts it, even in the Church we find hedonism, selfishness and egocentric behavior.

The Second Vatican Council tends to be misinterpreted most by Catholics who have had a university education-- that is, by those most exposed to the intellectual and moral spirit of the age. These well-educated Catholics have gone on to occupy influential positions in education, the media, politics, and even the Church, where they have been able to spread their so-called loyal dissent, causing confusion and discord in the whole church.
This failure of leadership has exacerbated the even greater problem of the mass departure from the Church of the working-class and poor. For example, the relentless diatribe in the popular media against Christianity has undermined the confidence of the ordinary faithful in the Church.
I strongly support Catholics receiving a university education, but we have to ensure that they also have a firm grounding in the fullness of the faith from an early age in our homes, schools and parishes, and that they are equipped to challenge the erroneous thinking of their contemporaries.

I think the context of his remarks is that we fail to prepare young men and women at school and in the parish to hold their own in Universities. The constant theme of Fit for Mission is that we have failed to evangelise and catechise effectively, to the point where the brightest who hang onto the faith, do so without any real understanding of the Catholic Faith.


Elizabeth said...

God bless the Bishop for his timely words. But let us not forget that the primary educators of children are the parents. So the fault that our children lack understanding of our Glorious Faith if foremost in the hands of the parents.

How can our schools teach the faith if the majority of the staff in many Catholic Schools are not Catholic and the few that are often have little understanding or even belief in the teachings of our Church.
Please do not let me offend anyone, I admit there are many good and strong Catholic teachers, there are just NOT enough.

Faith is not taught it is caught.

If parents would just start to pray with their children and young adults miracles would happen.

The same with school assemblies, we need more praying in schools - traditional prayers such as the Angelus at midday and more emphasis on teaching Catholicism NOT christianity.

Let us all say an Our Father every day for our Catholic Schools.

In partibus infidelium said...

Yet there has been a significant drift of intellectuals towards Catholicism. There are a significant number of academics who have become converts, Dr Sheridan Gilley and Professor Edward Norman (both products of the Cambridge History Faculty)spring to mind. Among the Anglican clerics who changed their allegiance in the 1990's a high proportion were Oxford and Cambridge graduates. However the good bishop has a point, I can remember twenty years ago a former student of a major Catholic School telling me that he had not been taught the history of his own community before he was taught it at university. Obviously things are even worse now. The elite within any church tends to be influenced by the ideology of the secular elite to which in class terms it corresponds.This is acute in the church of England and the Catholic Church is not immune from it.

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

As we remember Faith comes from what is heard, not read in a book (ref Rom 10, 17)...God Bless this Bishop for trying to restore CATHOLIC to the term Catholic education.

bernadette said...

Yes, God Bless POD.

However, when ARE his suggestions going to be implemented ? Most teachers have never heard of Fit for Mission. It`s starting to look a bit depressing, especially with the Westminster job about to be handed to yet another Liberal.

Any ideas on a final sprint to Save The Schools ? Anyone ??

George said...

He's way too young and able to retire! Bishop Pat your Country and your Faith needs you! Rome take note - Red hat please for the good Bishop, may God Bless him abundantly and what's more to the point may Catholic Schools actually take note of what this good Bishop is saying. This is a WAKE UP PEOPLE call to UK Catholics everywhere!!!!

Elizabeth has hit the nail on the head! Catholic schools 'primo priori' should be staffed with Catholic teachers who value their Faith above all else and parents must see themselves as the primary teachers of their children.

Parents, you have ONE CHANCE and ONE CHANCE ONLY to set your children on the right path to responsible adolescence and adulthood. Don't leave this to anyone else! You are answerable to God Himself. 'What did YOU do with soul/s I entrusted to you?'

Sharon said...

But let us not forget that the primary educators of children are the parents.

Agreed but let's remember that these parents were themselves probably the product of the schools we are deploring. What Faith do they have to hand on?

Ches said...

I posted on this myself yesterday:

I understand that The Tablet will give POD the right to reply.

As well they should. Lash's article was lamentably incoherent and lacking in anything approaching an argument worthy of a 'leading theologian' (their words, not mine).

mark said...

Sharon makes the point I have considered true for a number of years. Parents who were children in the 60’s and later suffered terribly from the trendy improvisations that entered the Church in the subsequent decades. Even today (sorry Father) catechesis for Catholics is poor or non existent in the vast majority of Parishes in the UK. I have myself heard Roman Catholic Priests of this 60-70s generation condone gay blessings, compare the authority of the Pope to no more than that of a normal diocesan Bishop (which I know he is as well), advocate and encourage parishioners to write to their Bishop in support of female priests and other such activities. And in all this no questions were raised, no censure given because no one had the knowledge or inclination to question it. When I did, my letter was ignored and I received no reply.

I have heard my Bishop say he would not consider Priests to replace the shortages in his diocese who were not fully signed up to Vatican 2, well I can read between the lines and know exactly what he means. Instead he is prepared to cluster and I expect close parishes rather than have ‘trads’ in his dioceses. I also heard him say the Moto Proprio was just a tool used by Rome to try and return the SSPX et al to the fold, nothing more; he politely would not comment on what he thought of the MP but was evidently happy that he had received little interest in its provisions.

I dearly whish I could have passed on a better, more fuller understanding of the Catholic faith to my own children but I am only too aware I am not knowledgeable enough about it myself, I was never schooled in the catechism and never learnt any Latin (and went to all Catholic Schools). I have never heard a single homily, been instructed, or heard any Priest preach on the great moral issues that affect our country today, (Oh with the exception of once when I visited London and attended mass at the Oratory). I do know about Fair Trade and ‘Live Simply’ though and to save energy, we had a letters from the Bishop about it.

Perhaps this generation is lost; we need a form of the RCIA for existing Catholics, never mind new ones.

Volpius Leonius said...

It's not as simple as preparing them through good catechisation though Father. You have to take in the psychological element.

It is human nature to adopt the point of view, the consensus of the group. when we send our Catholic teenagers to University this is what is happening, they are adopting the consensus of the student body of the university, that consensus is a wide mix of anti-Catholic ideas.

Once they leave university they generally continue to work and socialise with other university educated people and will find that other catholic graduates also share the anti-Catholic ideas that they encountered and adopted during the university years.

Because of this they will likely hold on to the anti-catholic ideas they first adopted at university if not earlier because they will continue to be the consensus of the group in the social circles they mix in.

To read more about this psychological phenomenon read this link:

attitude change

The answer is that not only do we need better Catholic schools we also need Catholic Universities. WE also need to lessen our exposure to the anti-Catholic ideas of the wider society we have the misfortune to live in.

mafeking said...

Without a doubt the catechesis in the schools has been poor for the past 40 years and it continues today. I left school in 1980 with very little clue about Catholic teaching and I was in a school run by priests !!. All I knew was what the real presence was and that "God is love" (I heard this millions of times but very little else). That was it. What residual faith I had left was easily destroyed when I went to university.

I question the idea though that things were better before. I come from a family of Irish Catholics and neither my mum or dad (God bless them) know what Catholic teaching is and neither did my grandparents. None of them could explain it to me. Even basic points of doctrine such as the divinity of Our Lord had passed them by. I had to learn everthing by myself in my 30's. Most of the people I now know who are my age group and practice are self-taught.

PeterHWright said...

I fully agree with what the Bishop of Lancaster says about the need for a sold grounding in the faith while at school. Yes, it is a protection against the intellectual onslaught that will follow in the secular world.

When I was at school, we were very well instructed in the truths of the Catholic faith. When we were older, we warned about life after school, and the secular culture we would find ourselves in. It was very good advice.

But at the time I left school, the first thing to grapple with was the crisis in the Church itself as it affected laymen and laywomen.

Of this we had been given no warning, no preparation, no advice. The "old" Mass disappeared. A new Protestant-style liturgy was foisted on us without any catechesis. This liturgy appeared to contradict nearly everything we had been taught. It was a fairly devastating blow.

I distrusted this new liturgy at the time. I still do today.

I have to say that, in comparison, keeping the Catholic faith in a secular, anti-Catholic environment was relatively simple !

mafeking said...

I should have added there are 9 on my mum's side and 6 on my dad's side and they don't know what catholic teaching is beyond 'be good and you'll get to heaven' and if my grandparents didn't know what it was that takes us back to about 1890. All their friends in the Irish community here in London are in the same boat. There are loads of them like this. To me Vatican II was an accident waiting to happen. If the parents didn't know what it was how could they check if the 60's, 70's generation of kids were being properly instructed at school. It's simple.

Volpius Leonius said...

mafeking the Irish situation is not necessarily typical especially when you start going back to the 1800's.

The main problems for them were caused by the English rule of Ireland which banned all Catholic schools. That wasn't;t the Churches fault.

Rather than be indoctrinated with protestantism the Irish simply refused to go school and as a result many Irish right up to the early 1900's couldn't even read and write. My own great aunt who came to England didn't even speak English, she only spoke galighe and she used to sign her name with an X because she couldn't write.

My Father on the other hand went to school in the 1950's he knows plenty a lot more than I was ever taught at school.

They used to make them learn the seven deadly sins, the ten commandments and the 6 precepts of the Church by heart for example so they could make good confessions, and this was before he was 11 years old. He still remembers them now at 65.

Of course he never went to university he was working at the coal mine at 14 and his mother always told him the Faith was more important than getting good grades.

The Faith is not just an intellectual exercise though, the main problem is not that it is not taught very well in schools(though that is a problem) as far as I am concerned the main problem that it has become invisible contained in the church building never venturing out into the wider society as if it was something shameful while secularism rampages throughout society unchallenged like a wild beast destroying life's and devouring souls.

It is not enough to teach the facts of the Faith the spirit of Catholicism must also be passed on, but you cannot give what you do not have yourself. The spirit of the Church militant is supposed to be just that militant.

To many catholics have made peace with the world. But the world has not made peace with us, the secularists continue to war against us most vigorously. When one side makes peace and the other continues to wage war, you get what we have today, a massacre.

Tagaste said...

Pray that PO'D will go to Westminster.