Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fit for Mission

Bishop O'Donahue's final version of Fit for Mission was published yesterday, how refreshing to have a Bishop who teaches, here is an extract:

Those who ignore their responsibility to God and neighbour forget they are Catholic.
 Those who deliberately miss Sunday Mass forget they are Catholic.
 Those who never pray forget they are Catholic.
 Those who deny they are sinners and avoid confession forget they are Catholic.
 Those who live oblivious to the suffering of the poor forget they are Catholic.
 Those who dissent from the authority of the Church forget they are Catholic.
 Those who use contraception, IVF and embryonic stem cell research forget they are Catholic.
 Those who use pornography forget they are Catholic.
 Those who have sex outside of marriage forget they are Catholic.
 Those who commit homosexual acts forget they are Catholic.
 Those who exploit their power and position forget they are Catholic.
 Those who cheat on benefits or taxes forget they are Catholic.
 Those employers who exploit their workforce forget they are Catholic.
 Those who have racist, sexist or homophobic attitudes forget they are Catholic.


Anonymous said...

I hope those in Rome responsible for episcopal appointments take note of all this,wouldn't it be good if the new Archbishop of Westminster made a similar statement at the beginning of his term of office.I won't hold my breath though!

Dilly said...

I think we have to be careful as to what constitutes "homophobia, racism and sexism". We can't allow these terms to be hijacked by people with a political axe to grind. Is it homophobic to object to gay adoptions? Is it sexist to preclude women priests? Is it racist to have an immigration policy like Canada or Australia, or to object to muslim preachers teaching boys to self-flagellate? While some of what is said is unexceptionable and commendable, there are still pockets of sandalistication - although the language is less euphemistic and jargonistic than much of what reaches us from other English bishops.

Anonymous said...


It's a pity that the Bishop never included:

Those priests who molest children forget they are Catholic...

Anonymous said...

Hang on, I'm not sure about this. A whole list of sins, with the repeated statement that those who commit them "forget they are Catholic".

Catholics have always sinned; sinning in itself does not generally stop us being Catholic. Human weakness means that we are sadly capable of sinning without forgetting our Faith.

He had it right in one line:
" Those who deny they are sinners and avoid confession forget they are Catholic."

Isn't the point at which we "forget we are Catholic" when we start thinking that sin does not matter, or fail to repent and seek absolution in Confession, or try to claim that a sinful act is not actually sinful.

Of course sins can lead to that, particularly if repeated and perhaps particularly those sins that the Bishop mentions, but it seems to go too far to say that those sins, in themselves, amount to forgetting that we are Catholic.

Father, enlightenment please!

Red Maria said...

Sean O'Shea, Bishop O'Donohue could have been really incendiary, which wouldn't be like him and said something like, those who invariably bracket the word "Catholic" with the terms "child molester" and "paedophile" may be sliding into anti-Catholic prejudice. I'm not suggesting that of you, of course. Nonetheless you may find Philip Jenkins' book, "Paedophiles and Priests" a worthwhile read.

Dillydaydream, yes we do have to be careful when we use the terms racist, sexist and homophobic but equally we must not allow right wing malcontents to hijack a perfectly reasonable argument for semantic precision for their own reactionary purposes, namely denying the existence of, excusing or even promoting racism, sexism, homophobia and other unpleasant prejudices.

Is it homophobic to object to same sex couples adopting children? No, it isn't but if people bang on about gay adoption, gay marriage and gay this that and the other without showing at least as much concern about say, the rather more pressing issues of divorce and fatherlessness one might reasonably infer that they have an odd obsession with homosexuality.

Is it sexist to preclude women priests? No, it isn't. Does that mean sexism doesn't exist, or that a bishop shouldn't concern himself with it? No it doesn't.

Is it racist to have any kind of restrictive immigration policy when birthrates in the Western world are plummeting and we face an enormous problem with providing pensions for our ageing population? It's certainly barmy and it certainly shows that the irrational desire to keep foreigners out at all costs is prioritised over economic growth and giving pensioners a decent standard of living.

Australia's inhumane asylum and immigration policy in 2001 saw the government send troops on board a Norwegian ship with asylum seekers on board to prevent it docking at Christmas island - the ship's captain had rescued from a sinking Indonesian vessel. It's seen people locked up in detention camps situated in remote desert regions for the crime of being asylum seekers. It's seen asylum seekers sewing up their own lips in desperate protest at their conditions.

Anyone wanting to import such a cruel policy over here certainly displays a marked indifference to the fate of migrant humans. And yes, that may well be motivated by racism. Sometimes the most obvious explanation is the correct one. It's not an accident, after all, that neo-nazi groups and fascist parties make immigration the central plank of their campaigning.

Is it racist to object to Muslim preachers teaching boys to self-flagellate? No it isn't. But if there is no corresponding objection to Christians administering corporal punishment to their children - some Christians consider smacking children a religious duty and there is a good body of Christian child chastisement literature advising parents on the authoritarian whys and gruesome hows of inflicting pain on naughty children as well as a thriving market in paddles, switches and other implements aimed specifically at this demographic - one might suspect that cases of child cruelty involving Moslems were being emphasised for reasons more to to do with Islamophobic prejudice than a concern for child welfare.

One of the many admirable things about Bishop O'Donohue is that he demonstrates that a concern for social justice is as much a part of the orthodox Roman Catholic package as say, affirming the value of human life and fidelity to the Magisterium. He resists those who would trivialise Roman Catholicism by making it an adjunct of the Monday Club. Hence, I think, his pertinent comments about those who would forget that they are Catholic.

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