Sunday, November 15, 2009

As if the Church in Ireland were not in a bad enough state

As if the Church in Ireland were not in a bad enough state after the revelations of sexual abuse one would think its bishops might quietly try to build up the faith. Well no, Willy Walshe of Killaloe has other ideas.
Bishop Walsh called for the debate on women priests in an interview with RTÉ News following an address to the Association of European Journalists in Dublin.
He said he would love to see another Pope John XXIII opening up discussion, particularly of exclusion.
The Bishop expressed sadness about his Church excluding homosexuals and refusing the Eucharist to couples in second unions.
Bishop Walsh recalled that Christ deliberately included people shut out by the religious authorities of His time.
He also urged discussion of mandatory priestly celibacy.
Earlier, Bishop Walsh challenged a lesser Vatican rule that almost completely excludes Protestants from its Eucharist.
He said he had never suggested to Church of Ireland members that they were not welcome to receive the sacrament in his churches.
What do you do when your bishop rather than being the "faithful bearer of Tradition", seems to regard it with contempt?
I wonder if there might be a clue here to the Irish sexual abuse scandals: if this particular bishop is decidedly wobbly on areas of sexual morallity, one can only believe other bishops and clergy share his views, and in private are more extreme. If there is no clear teaching, then probably there is no clear living out of the Church's teaching, no committment to what is being taught.
It would seem in Killaloe all is relative, each is entitled to his or her truth, what previous generations held sacred, is now tossed aside by this paricular shepherd.


me said...

His Excellency is obviously not praying enough Rosaries!
I know that sounds a simple solution for complicated problems, but it is the truth. We are in a battle, and it is not against flesh and blood, although it would appear to be, what with all our fleshly appetites and need of recognition by all and sundry.
Our Lady's intercession will melt away confusion regarding struggles of the flesh and obedience to the Church's teachings. And one isn't left with a puritanical legalistic Catholicism, she transforms your heart. She definitely includes the marginalised of society and expects this to be voiced, at the risk of being unpopular.
As a woman, I have never felt so affirmed. No person, place or thing has ever elevated my being in such a way.
My concern for people who feel abandoned by the Church or her members has grown, but I can only point them to the healing love of Christ, as that is who Our Lady points me towards.
I see now, when I fail(as I often do, far too often really) that it is this love I am hurting or blocking myself off from, and there isn't anything else that will do for me. So maybe the Bishop might like to 'up his decades' and see what happens, then he can pass the message on.
New reforms aren't going to save the world, the Rosary is. Our Lady herself said this. It is saving me, one day at a time,if I let it.
'Many souls go to hell, because they have no-one to pray for them'(Our Lady of Fatima 1917).

johnf said...

Why doesn't he go and join the Anglicans? They are desperate for people of his persuasion.

And it would at least allow the Holy Father to appoint a bishop who would keep the faith.

Deacon Stephen Morgan said...

I would recommend getting a transcript of the interview and sending it to the Bishop himself, asking him to publicly disavow his own remarks and making reference to the scandal he causes. If he refuses or simply does not, then recourse to the Congregation for Bishops on the same grounds - that of having caused scandal. That's what I'm doing, anyway.

Martin said...

Willie Walsh is the darling of the media in Ireland and his diocese is almost totally bereft of vocations. His below the surface dissent is hurting his diocese.

John said...

Deacon Stephen Morgan said...

" ... That's what I'm doing, anyway."

Dear Brother in Christ:
I'm glad someone is doing this. I pray for the Holy Spirit's Action on this matter.

Francis said...

Fr. Ray,

Believe it or not, this is part and parcel of the problem of Jansenism in Irish Catholicism that you drew attention to a few months ago.

The bishop embodies the reaction to Irish Jansenism in its heightened form, with a worldview that you get from countless Irish and Irish-surnamed clerics everywhere. Soft, therapeutic and fuzzy Catholicism reacting against a harsh and guilt-ridden one practised by parents, grandparents and great-grand-parents. The entire generation will have to pass before we are rid of it.

Michael Petek said...

Could someone please explain what Jansenism has to do with it?

gemoftheocean said...

What I don't understand is when we have rogue bishops like this why the pope doesn't immediately hand them their walking papers. Surely there has got to be someone in Ireland who has his head screwed on straight.

I don't care how much whining from the liberal chattering classes come from the fall out. Let them bitch and moan, they won't be any bigger heathens than they already are. It's people like this bishop who give scandal to the faith -- Catholics on the fence are likely to say "well, if those in charge don't believe in all this, why should I?"

Given my own situation, if I had a weaker faith than I do, I could have easily walked myself. I have a milquetoast for a bishop, who refuses to discipline a priest who lets people walk away with the Host, and shuts out and removes EMs who stop them. [Okay, technically I "quit" on the spot, but he wouldn't have let me remain.] But the absolute contempt I have developed for some of the clergy is not healthy. And that's bad enough. You can only pray so much. There comes a point where you want heads to roll, metaphorically, to see some justice done.

George said...

Seems like Willy Walshe is nothing short of a heretic! If he is indeed a Catholic Bishop he scandalises the Faithful and scatters his sheep!

Time for a Right Roman 'Rap' on the knuckles to get this man back in line.

By the sounds of it this Bishop is living in a 'spirit of V2 time warp!'

gemoftheocean said...

Michael, in short, Jansenism is over rigor, any fleeting thought is a sin, and you're going to go to hell for the least little thing. It's a rigidity devoid of mercy. The "hippy" bishops of Irish background, often were raised with it. [Not to a person, mind, I know many of Irish background who are neither lax nor quick to see fault in everything.] It also affected many of the boom generation.

I know a mid-60s woman of Irish heritage in the US who from her OWN mother got that "God will take care of the fetuses that are killed by abortion, what about the OLD fetuses [ie elderly etc.]" Yet she professes belief in the real presence. I know others who look like normal Catholics on the outside, but who are for gay marriage (and these are HETROsexual) who are leading their children astray.

They took all that "you're going to hell if you kiss a boy for more than 7seconds thing -- too seriously as a youth (because that's what they were taught) and have reacted off the chart in another direction.

Not realizing that NOT preaching the true is as bad as the Jansenism they were subjected to. Via media. God is compassionate -- but He is also judge.

Father Blake had an excellent post(s) on the topic -- type "Jansenism" in the search box on his blog, and it will open up that particular can of worms.

GOR said...

It has become increasingly clear to me that clerics who are very popular, the darlings of the media, of the celebrity cadre or of the populace in general are on very thin ice. Men like Fr. Michael Cleary, Bp. Eamonn Casey and other ‘popular’ clergy frequently seem to be tripped up by their own popularity. The adulation of the crowd can be intoxicating and intoxication leads us to do and say things we wouldn’t if sober. There are exceptions of course – Bp. Fulton Sheen comes to mind - but so often it seems to come about that if you are a ‘clerical star’ there’s more going on than meets the eye.

And I’m not implying that the 6th and 9th Commandments are always necessarily involved. More likely it is the 1st Commandment and the sin of Pride, as in: playing to the crowd and “knowing more than the Pope” – or Our Lord and His Church, for that matter. We may not pay tribute to Baal or Moloch, but false gods come in all guises.

I understand +Willie is very popular in Ireland. This, from my sister who lives there and always gushes when speaking of him. There’s a danger in that. If people like you for what you say, you may be inclined to say just what people want to hear. That is not the same as preaching the Word in season and out. So often we don’t want to hear the truth - or even the Truth - and if our clerical leaders are more concerned with their popularity than the Truth, then it’s a bargain made in Hell. The Devil knows a lot about Truth – and Pride, for that matter.

Judas – who had “control of the purse” - was probably pretty popular with the poor in Jerusalem and Judea awhile back. On the other hand we're told that St. John Vianney was not very popular with many of his flock in Ars...

John Kearney said...

Were this just a case of his opinion against the Church and poor man we must pray for him` then we could do so and get on with other business. The truth is that this bishop and his counterparts in Ireland and Britain are destroying the lives of our young people. He does not take the words of Christ on marriage very seriously so why should our young people. He condemns exclusiveness and ignores the tradition of celibacy handed down by the Apostles which ad the Council of Elviara in the 4th century said for this reason `could not be changed`. Someone said his diocese lacks vocations that is because it lacks young people which this bishop wrongly believes his own opinions will satisfy more than the teachings of the Church despite evidence to the contrary. it is time Rome for the good of his flock took action against this bishop. It would make him a popular martyr of course which he craves, but at least with a new bishop young people could ge taught the Catholic Faith, why sex is for marriage, whyd Jesus condemned divorce and start ot build up family life again.

Victoria said...

This man needs to be removed from his position. He is causing scandal to the "little ones"; those whose formation has been incorrect or non existant.

Dilly said...

Relax - as St Teresa says, all things pass, and patience obtains everything. He retires next year, and it will be interesting to see who is put in his place. Unlikely, given the number of vocations in his diocese, that it will be one of his acolytes.

maryrose said...

I lived in his dioces for some years. He is not popular with many good catholics but they pray for him and for his salvation. I dont know why the Irish hierarchy havent stepped in before now. I hope Rome takes it on. I think you misread the irish reaction when you believe the stories of popularity. Of course the media love him and people do admire his stance to help the Irish travelling comunity but they have many reservations about his stance on other issues. People tend to throw their eyes to heaven and pray for him. I know many good and holy priests who suffer under his stewardship because they have the temerity to preach on issues in accordance with church teaching.

Anonymous said...

I am afraid you will probably be hearing more of Bishop "wally" Walsh. He is due to retire in January when he reaches the age of 75. Now he no longer has the shackle of office to restrain him, God only knows what he will say

I pray that His Holiness will appoint a good Bishop but so far His appointments in our country have not been great.
Fr G

ffn said...

I have heard that it is no good Rome writing to him,anything with a Vatican postmark goes immediately into the bin,unopened.! ffn

Jack said...

If I may paraphrase Henry II "what miserable drones and traitors have been nurtured and promoted in this household of the Church who treat their lord with such shameful contempt?" as far as doing something about it who will rid us of this turblulent priest?

Mgr Lefebrve pray for us !!

Delia said...

Well, I hope he enjoys his retirement - preferably on one of the Skelligs!

Petrel789 said...

The problem does not, I think, stem from the bishop's being (as he is) a darling of the media. He is one of the tiny minority of Irish bishops (the Archbishop of Dublin is in the same honourable company) who has faced up squarely to the shame brought upon the church by the succession of sex abuse scandals - each one seemingly worse than the last, as a skim-reading of the Ryan report on industrial schools etc. all too clearly demonstates (I could not bring myself to read the whole awful thing properly). The bishop's courage on this issue naturally means that, however far off the wall he may be on other subjects, he is heard with great respect.

Fr Ray Blake said...

As Catholics we believe that the dead need our prayers, especially those who die excommunicate.
We do not publicly ask for the prayers of those not raised to altar publicly.

Ronan said...

Usually I would scoff at calls to discuss the womynpriest thing, because I accept that what the Vatican says goes and that that is part and parcel of being Catholic. However, the situation is changed somewhat by the welcoming in of Anglican clergy whose only reason to be Catholic is that they don't want women priests/bishops. They're not joining the Church because they believe it teaches the truth, but because it happens to align with their prejudices. Those of us who accept the Church's teaching on this do so on the basis that, like it or not, it is official teaching. But to welcome in a bunch of schismatics purely because they bolster the numbers of the exclusively-male-priesthood camp makes the Church's stance of "We simply don't have the authority" look disingenuous.

If the exclusively male priesthood is a perspective that can be arrived at through theological reasoning (as I suppose these CofE jokers must have, in the absence of a magisterium) rather than a rule that must be accepted 'just because', then let's open the debate, I say. The only good reason not to is that someone might be worried their arguments aren't good ones. I'm presuming readers of this blog saw the Intelligence Squared debate last month. Do we really want our best response to this question being the Widdebeast berating curious members of the public for being 'ignorant'? No wonder the audience laughed at us.

All that text and I didn't even get onto the sex abuse remark, which I can't help feeling is unfair.

Elizabeth said...

Our Catholic Faith teaches us to hate the sin but love the sinner. All are welcome in the Church but they must at least try to live by its teachings.

GOR said...

Ronan: I think it is unfair to categorize Anglicans who may avail of Anglicanorum Coetibus as merely disaffected due to women’s increasing role in the Anglican clergy. That may have been the ‘last straw’ for some, but I suspect that the unease started years ago with the approval of contraception and divorce in the Anglican Communion - among other things.

Previous converts have noted that seeing the divide between the Cof E and Rome progressively growing wider had led them to increasing unease with the direction being taken. The lack of a Magisterium and the impression of an ‘anything goes’ religion was too much to stomach and led to questions of what the True Church should be.

All converts – just like all existing Catholics - must subscribe to the teachings of The Catechism of The Catholic Church, without reservation. One has to assume sincerity on the part of those wishing to join – that they are “moved by the Holy Spirit” and honestly wish for full membership in Christ’s Church.

One should not expect perfection. We all fail in so many ways to live up to what we profess to believe.

That women cannot be ordained to the priesthood is not merely a ‘rule’ that could be subject to change – like the discipline of celibacy. The issue was put to rest in 1994 by Pope John Paul II in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, where he declared unequivocally:

“Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.”

Bp. Walsh would do well to re-read this Apostolic Letter. Roma locuta est. Causa finita est.

Deacon Stephen Morgan said...

Ronan, I'm not sure that you understand the position of those Anglicans likely to be considering the current opportunity. They are not single issue converts but rather groups who have tried to remain with the Anglican fold in order to bring it, as a body, back to Catholic communion. They have, by and large, now seen that there is little or no chance of this happening and therefore wish to enter into the fullness of ecclesial communion.

As for opening the debate on the ordination of women: it can no more be done than opening a debate on the Trinity or the natures in Christ. The Church has spoken authoritatively (and in convincing theological terms) on the question. It is not open for debate. If Bp Walsh had said that we needed to engage in reflection and explanation of the Church's teaching then that would be quite another thing. He didn't.

tempus putationis said...

'What do you do when your bishop rather than being the "faithful bearer of Tradition", seems to regard it with contempt?'

Presumably, the same thing as you do you when all three bishops in the south-west of England (Clifton, Portsmouth and Plymouth, and perhaps others?) recommend the banning of Communion on the tongue - which is the normative way of receiving Communion in the Catholic Church. You pray, you take comfort from the Lord, you write to Rome if necessary and you remember that in the end the teaching of the Church will prevail, Flying Pig Flu notwithstanding.

Ronan said...

Hello GOR and Deacon Stevie,

Nah, I'm not buying that line about unease at 'the approval of contraception and divorce in the Anglican communion' when that is what is foundational about that church anyway. And anyway, I don't demand perfection any more than I am offering it, and will welcome them into the real Church.

Nevertheless, there's still this thing about shutting down debate on women's ordinations. If I wanted to discuss the nature of the trinity then I know from experience that you can go down all sorts of rabbit holes of craziness with it, and that the Catholics in the discussion will delight in attempting to explain the mystery. However, with women's ordination, all I ever seem to hear from the traditionalist side is, 'Pope X said Y, so shut up wedon'twanttohearfromyou lalala' fingers in ears. If the Church has spoken in convincing theological terms then I've not heard them. I'm sorry the Bishop didn't word his phrase to your satisfaction and ask for an 'explanation of Church teaching' rather than a 'debate', but perhaps like me he thinks debate is a rather good format for hearing, questioning and explaining church teaching?

Jack said...

all due respect Father, but by that logic we wouldn't be asking for the prayers of anyone born after the current process was instituted (1200 I belive). As for the case of Mgr Lefebvre one day the madness that is currently gripping the Church (BP Walsh being a case in point) will subside and the Good Archbishop's reputation will be restored, perhaps the CCS will even re-open the case for the cannonization of Mdme Gabrille Lefebvre which stalled after the modernists then in the curia realised that Mgr Lefebrve was having none of their malarky.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I don't follow your logic Jack.

Anonymous said...

Fr Ray Blake said...
I don't follow your logic Jack.

If we don't ask for prayers of the dead, who are not yet raised to the Altar.

How are the miracles required for canonisation attributed to them.

How can they become recognised as saints?

It seems to me a normal pious Catholic practice.

Didn't St Joan of Arc die 'Excomunicated'?


Deacon Stephen Morgan said...

Ronan, if you haven't heard it, then you're not looking in the right place. You could try to Google 'Ordinatio Sacredotalis' and read that document.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Jack/Jeff, decide who you are!

You don't do it publicly, liker here.

Administrator said...

Stephen, where does one acquire a copy of the transcript?

GOR said...

Ronan: I could snidely respond to you by saying what part of “this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful” don’t you understand…? But that would be facile - not to mention uncharitable. If something is settled doctrine it requires the assent of faith. It doesn’t preclude questions designed to understand the doctrine more clearly, but it does preclude questioning the truth and validity of the doctrine.

Think about it. Was JP II acting in a vacuum when he said those words? Did this just pop into his head out of the blue? No, what he was doing was reiterating something that has been part of the Church from the beginning. Something that is Tradition, not just tradition with a small ‘t’ - as if it were a ‘custom’ subject to change.

In Ordinatio Sacerdotalis Pope JP II refers to a response Pope Paul VI gave to a letter of Ab. Coggan of Canterbury in 1975 on this subject. Subsequently, Paul VI instructed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to address the matter, which they did with the Declaration Inter Signiores in 1976.

The Popes base their teaching on what Christ handed down to the Apostles and what they have handed on to us through Apostolic Succession for over 2000 years. Our Lord did not call women to the priesthood. He could have – but He didn’t. Not even Our Lady, the greatest of all creatures - men or women - was called to be one of the Twelve!

Now some – especially ‘feminist theologians’ – would have you believe that this was because of the social conditions of the time. Women did not have the roles in society that they have today – feminism not having much visibility in the Judea of 30 A.D. So Our Lord being a “man of his time” didn’t want to contravene the social conventions of his age. That doesn’t square with Our Lord’s actions in His public life where he consistently flouted the legalities of The Law and the social mores of His time. He was no “respecter of persons” when it came to His preaching and actions.

So what was it? Did he just forget? Did it slip His mind? Did it never occur to Him? That doesn’t square with His Divinity, does it? We can’t put words into His mouth that were never there. There were many holy women who followed Our Lord but he didn’t choose them to be part of the Twelve. There were many holy women whom St. Paul converted to the Faith, but he didn’t ordain them ministers of the Word or the Eucharist. Why? If it had been part of Our Lord’s plan for them don’t you think he would have?

There have been many women saints throughout the history of the Church – some of them Doctors of the Church - but none of them aspired to the priesthood as if it were their right. On the contrary, they held the priesthood in high esteem, but not as something for them. Teresa of Avila was a mystic and received many revelations from God - but none of them were about raising her to the priesthood. Catherine of Siena was no shrinking violet and laid into Popes and the hierarchy without mincing words. Did she feel short-changed because she was a woman? Arguably she could have made a great pope, but she was not called to that nor did she expect that was God’s will for her.

But in the final analysis it comes back to Tradition – the constant teaching of the Church in faithfulness to the teaching of Our Lord. We either believe that or we don’t. But to hold to that requires Faith, which is a gift freely given to us and which we must pray that it be strengthened and not lost.

Because, human that we are, we can lose it.

Ronan said...

Deacon Stevie, thanks, have read the document you cite. Fiorella, you can find it with google on the Vatican's website. Having read it, it does rather back up my point that the response to any questioning of the male-only priesthood is 'Pope X said Y'. Its funny that whilst citing scripture to maintain male-only ordination, the priesthood manages to explain away a lot of other passages in the Gospels which one would think were nails in the coffin for clericalism. Just the other week we had the reading of Jesus telling us beware of scribes in flowing robes who devour the inheritance of widows, and I also recall reading some particularly harsh words about those who go to the temple and puff themselves up (am paraphrasing). We're also told not to call anyone 'Father' except Him upstairs, yet we've got a class of people we call Father. Then there's the fact that Christ was himself a layman, and was murdered by the priestly class. It strikes me as odd that all these bits of scripture should be overlooked and explained away, whilst adhering slavishly to those bits of scripture which would exclude women from the priesthood. For all I know, the clerical class could be an accretion of shit which the Church has gathered as an accident of it's 2000 yr old history, and might be washed away tomorrow. Unless that happens, tho, I'll be sticking with those traditions because I want to be in the communion founded by Jesus Christ Himself.

GOR, thanks for engaging in discussion rather than fobbing me off with a dry Vatican document. I do by and large go along with your reasoning on this question and am to a certain extent playing Devil's advocate in calling for a debate. I actually use many of the points you have made when trying to explain the Church's stance to secular friends, or even to fellow Catholics, many of whom have been in communion with Rome longer than I. I do worry that our ordained folk of a traditionalist persuasion don't always seem capable of doing the same, and the message often feels like 'sit down and shut up'. Perhaps it's because, other than within my family and via blogs, I don't socialise with other Catholics that I am aware of the need for the Church to bring its arguments to those without the faith, rather than berating them for that lack of faith and lack of interest in an ancient and dusty old culture.

Just another mad Catholic said...

I am jack, jeff is another person who probebly feels the same way as I do, I guess this confusion arised from the fact that i didn't post using my google account

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