Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Damned Gadfly!!!

Go to this page of the Middlesbrough Dicesan website and before you can access this page you will get this:
By using this Diocese of Middlesbrough website you agree to be legally bound our Terms and Conditions, which shall take effect immediately on your first use of the site. If you do not agree to be legally bound by all the following terms please do not access and/or use this Diocese of Middlesbrough website. The Diocese of Middlesbrough may change these terms at any time by posting changes online. Please review these terms regularly to ensure you are aware of any changes made by the Diocese of Middlesbrough. Your continued use of the site after changes are posted means you agree to be legally bound by these terms as updated and/or amended.
You will have to agree to the terms and conditions before you can view anything. Mulier Fortis says that it is all the fault of one James Preece. I know James can be crass, sometimes he get things amazingly wrong. I have priest friends in the Middlesbrough diocese who spit nails at the mention of his name, if I lived in the diocese or was a regular visitor of his blog I might share their feelings. He is an irritating gadfly on the rump of the body politic, the type of person who delights in puncturing the vanity of cosy contemporary churchiness.

But what is it about the Catholic Church in this country that seems to embrace dissent at every level and yet refuses to allow free and open debate, theology is an open field; Catholics can debate as much as they like women's ordination, even propose abortion but ask questions about structures, management, policy, cosying up to governments then pressure will be brought to bear. I think James' wife was asked to distance herself from him in order to take part in some Catholic activity.

What is so terrible about a few questions, a little scrutiny, even some ridicule?

The abuse crisis, as the UK Ambassador to the Holy See, Francis Campbell, said is not so much about abuse in the Catholic Church, which is on a par with any other strata in society, "it is about cover-up". It is cover-up that has virtually destroyed the Church in Ireland and maybe has finally crushed the Belgium Church.

The Gospel is about Truth. Until the Church can be open to scrutiny, the Gospel will always evade its grasp, it will always be regarded as having nothing to offer our society, as being too hypocritical to the point even of having no place in the discussion. Truth and humility go hand in hand, as does Holiness and transparency, even being willing to accept humiliations for the sake of the Truth or disclosure and scrutiny for the sake of Holiness. If we don't embrace humility and transparency God will force these things on his Church.

There is a  fear at the heart of the Church in our country, not of God but of being discovered to have form but no substance.

One important aspect of the blogosphere is that occassionally it discomforts the comfortable, a bit like John the Baptist, or the prophets, or those mad hermits who came in to the city to upset the complacent clergy and confront vainglorious bishops. We needed them in the past, today we have even more need of them.


Anonymous said...

dlisdlis'It is cover-up that has virtually destroyed the Church in Ireland and maybe has finally crushed the Belgium Church.'

God help those of us who live in any of those lands. Thankfully we believe in the theological virtue of hope.

A religious.

nickbris said...

Censorship or disallowing fair comment is also evil and results in all the trouble we have in the World today.

Covering up of criminal activity is censorship and that has turned out to be the greater crime.

gemoftheocean said...

The laughable thing is they think it would really stand up in court.

"Well, you see, your honor, we're really short of cash and if someone's stupid enough to agree to the terms and we change them to add down on line 2186 in 2 pixel type "by the way you agree to pay us 1 million pounds" then they really DO owe us the million pounds. I'm sure you're dying to help us get satisfaction, right, your honor?" I'd like to see how far a British judge could boot someone up the backside. The phrase "dismissed with prejudice" leaps to mind.

Is it safe to say there is NO testicular fortitude possessed by whomever the powers that be are who obviously must cower behind mummy's skirts? It's one thing to give fair warning that a comment perhaps might not be published if foul language, threats are used - and quite another to act like spoiled brats who start a fight by throwing rocks then running behind teacher to prevent retaliation.

Whimps. I think the prize of "girly men" of the year has already been jointly awarded Obama and AlGore - so the entry is a little late and quite a few pickles short of a barrel.

Thomas Windsor said...

ah, but you don't need to agree to the terms to read the pages, Google has all the pages in their cache.

I have just read all their pages (no I would not bother if I were you) without clicking the I agree button.

I do wonder if they keep a check of how many people click the disagree button... I have already clicked disagree twice.

Bryan said...

I am far from sure about your ante-penultimate paragraph, Father.

We see again and again in the lives of the Saints that ecclesial authorities suspected them, condemned them and thwarted their efforts. Yet these men are Saints because they persevered and remained true and faithful despite the corrupt and sometimes immoral behaviour of prelates and superiors.

I think of St Ignatius and the Inquisition, St Pio and his Bishop etc. (My dear Ludolph the Carthusian writes in scathing terms about grapsing and lascivious prelates and religious of his day.)

As Saint Ignatius says in his Rules on thinking with the Church:

"To be eager to commend the decrees, mandates, traditions, rites and customs of the Fathers in the Faith or our superiors. As to their conduct; although there may not always be the uprightness of conduct that there ought to be, yet to attack or revile them in private or in public tends to scandal and disorder. Such attacks set the people against their princes and pastors; we must avoid such reproaches and never attack superiors before inferiors. The best course is to make private approach to those who have power to remedy the evil."

Our ecclesial superiors are sinful humans not saints. We Catholics have retained the doctrine of ex opere operato for a good reason, if the validity of a sacrament depended on a holiness of the priest where would we be?

We can all demand openness about the sins of others, and demand they are humble and transparent but we're not so good at it ourselves. (I speak for myself of course).

Peccator in caritate Xp.

Tom said...

Well I've been on the site, read various bits of uninteresting and uninformative stuff; read the privacy policy and the Ts and Cs; but not been given the opportunity to agree or disagree - despite looking all over the place for a suitable button.

I feel deprived at being unable to register my non-agreement - almost to the point of feeling disenfranchised. Oh well, a stiff malt will have to console me.

Physiocrat said...

That does not make sense. How can anyone have agreed to anyone's terms and conditions without first having read them, which is the implication of that statement.

me said...

Unfair Father. He is a young man, with extreme potential. This post is very unfair, and written with emotion, not clarity.

Bruised Catholic said...

Dear Father,

As a young lay Catholic I have to write to say that I think that your treatment of James Preece is very unfair.

The laity have suffered greatly as a result of the lack of fidelity to the Church and Her teachings shown by many priests in this country.

It seems that these priests are assisted by the fact that many orthodox priests seem to 'close ranks' when the hierarchy is criticised. Meanwhile the laity are left defenceless against dangerous teachings and practices.

Is it now wrong for us to defend ourselves and try to warn others?

All orthodox Catholics surely venerate the Sacred Priesthood and want to love and respect all our priests. However many of us have found that your brother priests seem to want to make it harder, rather than easier, for us to reach eternal salvation.

James Preece has the courage to speak unpopular truths.

Perhaps if priests showed the same courage the laity wouldn't need to speak out?

I am sure that we would be happy to follow the direction of courageous Bishops and Priests. Unfortunately many of us have never experienced such leadership in our lifetimes.

Adulio said...

I know James can be crass, sometimes he get things amazingly wrong. I have priest friends in the Middlesbrough diocese who spit nails at the mention of his name, if I lived in the diocese or was a regular visitor of his blog I might share their feelings.

With all due respect, the onus is on you Father to prove whatever James had alleged is "wrong".

James is more likely a thorn in the side of those clergy who live of the fat of parishioners, but fail what the church charges them to. Too long, have we laboured under this "Father knows best" mentality only to watch a significant number of them preach the Catholic faith into oblivion.

As you observed, dissent is tolerated but orthodoxy is treated with contempt.

Sadie Vacantist said...

There was no cover-up in respect of the abuse scandal. This is a canard. What bishops don't want people to know is their involvement with 'sexologists' who were acting as their advisors, an initiative fortfied by a defective post-conciliar 'theology' and general loss of faith.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I think some of you have not read what I said.
If you read it again, it says despite James faults, he has a very necessary function, like Socrates who was referred to as a gadfly stinging the rump of society. James performs the same function, he asks difficult questions.
I suggest that people like James save the Church from "cover-up", which was part of the child abuse scandal, that we need what he asks for the Truth and transparency.

Sadie Vacantist said...

Since his exclusion from Catholic Voices for being too far 'oop North' (BBC Radio is actually movng to Manchester) I sense his blog has become a little bonkers.

This whole Northern thing is worthy of examination. No seminary north of Birmingham, James lives there, collapse of the Church in Liverpool and the list is endless. Modern Catholicism appeals only to urban elites especially from the South.

Thousands expressed an interest in the Church after the papal visit. How many people will convert when faced with a RCIA programs which are run by people hostile to the 'pope thing'?

The Bones said...

'He is an irritating gadfly on the rump of the body politic.'

You will be hearing from my solicitors in the morning. - Mr J. Preece

Thomas Mullett said...

James Preece = Yorkshire's Savonarola?

Frideswide said...

The gad-fly cometh, it cometh from the north.

David said...

The political philosopher Erik Voegelin wrote about the prohibition of questions as the primary device in maintaining what he calls a "secondary reality", that is, an illusory state of affairs to which everyone is required pay lip-service. This secondary reality is promoted by those who wish to maintain their own power and who therefore construct a series of taboos which may not be broken and shibboleths which must be uttered. Think "emperor and new clothes".

As a convert to the Catholic Church I have felt very strongly that there exists such an illusory "secoondary reality" within the institutional Church. Lip-service must be paid to the illusion that since Vatican II we have been experiencing a "new springtime" of the Church, when all evidence has been to the contrary.

It also explains why bishops have been more decisive in dealing with traditionalists than with abusive priests, as traditionalists by their very existence put a question mark beside this fictitious reality that the bishops have created and abusive priests (seen as unfortunate individuals) do not.

The Lord’s descent into the underworld

At Matins/the Office of Readings on Holy Saturday the Church gives us this 'ancient homily', I find it incredibly moving, it is abou...