Monday, August 08, 2011

Faith and Ignorance

Dr Martin, Archbishop of Dublin has spoken of  ''undeclared heresy'' in the Church in Ireland brought about by a crisis of passing on the Faith.

Archbishop Dolan has blogged about secular journalists speaking about the beliefs of Catholics as Vatican or the Pope's "policies", at its root of course is that dissenting Catholics are often giving a higher profile in the secular media, and even in the Church than Catholics - by Catholic I mean those who actually believe the Catholic faith.
The problem is that in many places the faith is not taught, the young lapse through sheer ignorance, heretics and heresies are given preference over Catholics and Catholicism, dissent is treated as the norm, dioceses and national Churches invariably make up their own version of the faith and it is presented as the Truth and Catholicism itself as somehow being dissent or aberration.

No wonder the Pope told our bishops at the Ad Limina visit, "It is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate".

Peter begins to drown when he takes his eyes off Christ, when he looks round sees the raging sea and mistrusts the faith that enables him to walk to Jesus over the water. It is only in his panic, when he is drowning and he cries out, "Save me, Lord", that he finds himself safe in the Lord's arms. Doubting, he dies, beliving he is saved.

The disciples in the boat, which is meant to be an imae of the Church, seeing Peter's faith and Jesus' power, recognise Jesus, who they had previously described as a ghost, now recognise him as the Son of God. This recognition happens in the Church, the barque of Peter. Those in the boat are the community of Faith.

We are given Faith as free gift by the Spirit of God. The sin against the Holy Spirit is anything which destroys or damages Faith, for it is the Holy Spirit which enables us to cry, "Abba, Father".

As Christians we have a duty to build up our Faith and the Faith of others. Faith can so easily be destroyed. Mortal Sin destroys it but so too does ignorance. St Paul tells that we should always have an answer ready for those who question us. As Catholics we should be able to explain what the Chuch, Christ, teaches about the Trinity, the Incanation, the Immaculate Conception, the Divine origins of Church, the Sacredness of Life from conception to natural death, why and what the Church teaches about sex and sexuality etc etc.

Vatican II teaches the Church is missionary by its very nature: why is it that almost 50 years on most Catholics are so ignorant of their faith, incapable of sustaining it in their hearts or building it up in others? Why is it that dessent is still tolerated? Yes, why is that dissenting newspapers are tolerated at the back of Catholic Cathedrals? Dissent sews confusion, it is no healthy theological speculation, it damages faith, it makes faith untrustworthy. Faith is necessary for salvation.

Maybe we need to take a leaf out Dr Martin's book and start talking about heresy, because heresy and heretics are the destroyers of faith, and should be opposed by the full force of magisterial intolerance!


exhausted said...

All excellent questions, Father. Perhaps someone could ask Archbishop Vincent Nichols?

Anonymous said...

I like Fr Pat Brennan's post:

umblepie said...

Well said Father. Let's pray that this message reverberates 'loud and clear' in the corridors of ecclesiastical power.

mikesview said...

Excellent post, Father. Are we being premature in thinking that this just might mean the "green shoots of recovery" etc, etc. That is to say, that the truth, which has for so long been obvious to a few of us in the pews and far fewer in the presbyteries, is now being spoken by a few people from the seats of authority - at last? I fancy your counsel would be to "keep your powder dry".

Jacobi said...

You make a good point, Father, regarding heresy, particularly on this day the feast of St Dominic, who did so much to combat heresy and establish Truth.

Richard said...

As you say, Father, so much of it is ignorance and lack of teaching.

But there is also a bit of arrogance there too.

Whenever I worry about a particular aspect of the Church's teaching, I have to remind myself that so many theologians, far more learned than I, have agreed with the Church.

It is far more likely to be my understanding that is wrong, rather than the Church.

Richard said...

That reminds me - there is an interesting psychological phenomenom called the "Dunning–Kruger effect."

In essence this means that people can be so ignorant (about a particular subject) that they cannot even realise that they are ignorant.

Therefore those who have had no introduction to theology (which, these days, is almost everyone, Catholics included) can easily fail to realise that there is a solid basis, and an intellectual coherence, behind the Church's teaching. Because they've never been exposed to it, they assume there's nothing there.

In the past that didn't matter, because people believed based on the Authority of the Church. But that doesn't work much at the moment.

So then if people think that the Church's teaching is irrational and baseless, then it is an easy step to thinking that their own irrational and baseless beliefs are just as valid.

I think this means that religious education and sermons need to include a much tougher, intellectual element. We can't make everyone theologians, but we can make them realise that there is a whole body of reason behind the Church's teaching.

JARay said...

"And on earth, peace to men of goodwill".
I'm sure you all know where that quote comes from.
You will also note that it has been dumbed down....the "goodwill" part has been corrupted and altered. It has even been eliminated!
Where are the men of goodwill?
You have riots, burning and looting and such things are even expected these days. Everyone knows their rights. Everyone (or nearly everyone) expects to get something for nothing. Multiculturalism is the theme for today, except that there is a real lack of any culture! Too many families are dysfunctional and this dysfunctionalism infests today's society. The Faith is not passed on at its very roots. Schools are supposed to support family values but when many families have lost their values, what is there to support?
The very existence of special Masses for homosexuals indicates the loss of true values within areas of the Church.
I think that we all know what the causes of the problems within society are but we feel quite frustrated at any attempts that we make to remedy them.

Philly said...

Or just maybe we can learn from ++Martin and start DOING something about heresy instead of travelling the planet to talk about heresy anywhere but in Dublin.

santoeusebio said...

I am afraid this goes back a long way. I was at school at a Benedictine establishment. The headmaster was so keen that we get on in the world by passing exams that our religious education was neglected and we were not given a sound intellectual underpinning to our beliefs. This was well before VII. Later I usually kept my head down when at University and surrounded by logical positivists and linguistic philosophers who informed me that to ask whether God existed was a meaningless question.

It was only years later that I picked up a book by Bishop Butler - "A Time to Speak" - who had been Abbot in my schooldays and I discovered that there was a sound philosophic basis for what I believed. A bit late in the day - but I suppose the situation has just got worse for most others.

There needs to be a great deal more coercion from the top and less namby-pamby nonsense from our bishops. The next time a priest tells me in confession that God loves me I am going to respond!

Perhaps we should be beginning to see that coercion and leadership are what our Society needs.

Nicolas Bellord

Savonarola said...

Magisterial intolerance towards heretics! That's the way. Bring back the rack and public burnings. That will really help the world to know the God of love.
By the way shouldn't trad Catholics be blaming the London riots on Vatican II?

Fr Ray Blake said...

You are obviously not a Newman reader. He was of course after yor period.

"Magisterial intolerance" = teaching with Christ's, the Church's, authority, Divine Authority.

Savonarola said...

I am of course aware that the phrase is Newman's, but still find the notion of intolerance disturbing - no matter what he meant by it. Not tolerating views and opinions because we know they are wrong so easily leads to suppressing or eliminating them and then the people who espouse them. Jesus said that the good seed and the weeds should be allowed to grow together until the final judgment - I find him a more reliable guide even than Newman. True faith is not supposedly certain knowledge, but more like the ability to live with necessary uncertainty. The Catholic Church would be truer to the one it calls its founder if it recognised that and practised it in humility.

Jack O'Malley said...

When they protestantised the Mass, they protestantised the Faity.

The way back is clear.

shane said...

His Grace would do well to take Cardinal Pell's advice.

Anonymous said...


Christ was extremely intolerant.

For that matter, so are the other two persons of the Trinity.

Your opinion is the product of one of three things (I don't know, and don't care to know, which): ignorance, malice, or intellectual bankruptcy.

+ Wolsey.

P.S. Were you a bishop, in your tolerance, no doubt you would have done little to suppress abusing clergy. Imagine being so illiberal as to censure someone! How un-Christlike!!

And, before you reply, there's no difference in principle between suppressing evil actions and evil thoughts.

Savonarola said...

Anonymous, your opinion of me is certainly one of ignorance, since you didn't bother to read what I wrote very carefully before judging me. I suggested that the attitude of intolerance towards what we call heresy can be very dangerous in religious institutions because it so easily leads to suppressing people as well as their so-called heresies and in the process doing hideous injustice to many - read any history of religion for endless examples of that. Of course we should oppose abusive behaviour and other evils, but it is worth remembering that the one thing Christ would not tolerate was intolerant religious self-righteousness which rushes to condemn others who disagree with us. He made a special point of welcoming those whom the religious despised.

Anonymous said...


I not only read your posting carefully, I fully understood it, and judged you justly, unlike you with your unjust and at least stupid, if not malicious, judgment against traditionalists. Can't you see your inconsistency/hypocrisy??

In your headlong rush to condemn traditionists, you're guilty of the very thing you (unjustly) accuse them of - pharisaic exclusionism! And, were that not enough, you mischaracterise Christ - indeed, you must have read some Gnostic gospel to obtain your "understanding" of Christ - those of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John certainly portray Him as intolerant. Cf., e.g., Matthew 19:17.

I suggest you go to a traditional mass, you'll see all kinds of people there, including some of those who would have been unacceptable to the pharisees - at our church there's a young girl, an unwed mother, who's also a recovering drug addict. Who knows, even the odd prostitute might be there. This doesn't mean that we approve of either fornication or drug addiction, but we know that the church is a hospital for sinners. You had no idea of this, yet you got onto your tub and played the morally-grandstanding pharisee, didn't you??

It's quite clear that you're a very emotion-driven individual, as a rational person would not post such inherently contradictory drivel as you have. Furthermore, a genuine, evidence-based, non-malicious accusation of heresy is not evidence of religious self-righteousness.

All you seem to me to want to do is use this issue as an opportunity to ride your particular hobby-horse. Such behaviour is not only irrational, it's un-Christian and immature. (By the way, if you, for instance, are a genuine heretic, you should be excluded. There's no hypocrisy, unkindness, nastiness or injustice about that, no matter how much you want to see some. Christ not only threatened the pharisaic with exclusion, but also the unbelievers. In fact, the pharisees were unbelievers, and deserved exclusion on that basis as well as on the basis of their other misconduct.)

In the future, Savonarola, think rationally and judge justly, two things which you, in your subject post, have not done.

+ Wolsey

Anonymous said...

To deal further with your other point - the accusation of heresy one- Savonarola, that's just ridiculous as your first - the "traditionalists are nasty pharisees" one, let me just say that, accusations pitched at this level of generality:

"the attitude of intolerance towards what we call heresy can be very dangerous in religious institutions because it so easily leads to suppressing people as well as their so-called heresies and in the process doing hideous injustice to many - read any history of religion for endless examples of that"

are garbage. Further and better particulars, please. IF someone IS a heretic, they deserve to be "suppressed" - they are, to put it bluntly, the worst category of human garbage, and weven orse than murderers. But to make sure the accusation is properly founded on fact, is why we have judicial process.

Are you going to be consistent, and criticise those who complain to the secular authorities about alleged criminal conduct?? Do you have any idea how many people have been "suppressed", rightly and, where false accusations have been made, wrongly, when someone complains of an offence to the police, and sets the secular criminal law in motion?

No, I didn't think you would. You're not interested in being consistent, are you - only in articulating your stupid, sophomoric brand of ideology.

+ Wolsey

Savonarola said...

Anonymous, the rabid viciousness of your attack on me and deliberate misreading of what I wrote are sadly all too typical of your kind of traditionalist Catholic. It is well said that there is nothing more nasty and hateful than odium theologicum. As a spokesman for God you are a disgrace.

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