Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Nike don't do XXXL

Irish Catholics are beginning to talk about "heresy", so too are Americans. At the moment it is, in Ireland, asking if those silenced priests are actually heretical, in the USA the same question is applied to nuns. For many there is perhaps a need to define a "heretic". In order to do that one has to define what Catholicism is. It has perhaps come as bit of shock for many that Catholicism has a particular content, and that people might actually be problematic if they don't actually believe it. That was really my complaint about the wishy-washiness of the Faith Cards.

For a generation or two "being Catholic" has been something about "self definition", amounting to "I am a Catholic, because that is what I choose to identify myself as", it fits well with a consumerist culture, where wearing a particular label, is a "choice"; a little like the obese couch potato, identifies himself with a healthy lifestyle by wearing a brand of sports clothing (but Nike don't do XXXL). The culture of the Church is different from the secularist consumerist world, the words of Christ in the Gospel are not about our choice but his, "You did not choose me but I chose you ...".

The reports from Ireland, but it could be from elsewhere in the world, including England and Wales, that most people do not actually believe what the Church teaches should not be a shock to anyone. We have been so concerned that people should identify themselves with belonging to the "Catholic brand", which is no more than a form of "tribalism" rather than bothering to evaluate the quality or content of that belonging.

When Liturgy and Catechises are subjective, a matter of personal tastes, likes or dislikes, certainly when bishops and clergy take on "on-judgementalism" as a virtue, then being a Catholic is whatever one likes it to mean. No wonder the idea not only of a teaching Church is shocking but so too is a Christian life that is about more than niceness and tolerance but is actually about a radical difference in choices and living.

The John 15:16 quote, "You did not choose me but chose you" ends, "so that you may bear fruit, fruit that will last". The lack of fruitfulness is seen simply in the fact that "Catholics" do not believe, empty churches, seminaries, convents and empty heads testify to this.


Ed Tomlinson said...


Tonia Marshall said...

The Church is the home of sinners. What I find more worrying in Ireland is that people no longer want to be associated with the brand precisely because they do know what the church teaches but usually dont know why.

JARay said...

For quite a long time now those who comment on blogs have referred to CINOS and that is an acronymn for Catholics In Name Only. I suppose that the name Heretic is more appropriate but somehow CINO seems not quite so judgemental. Certainly the time is already here when Catholics must stand up and defend Catholic teaching and that certainly requires knowledge of just what that teaching is. Sadly the standard of teaching within Catholic schools has deteriorated and sermons delivered at Sunday Masses have, by and large, tended to avoid anything other than "warm fuzzies" which even ardent atheists would find difficult to fault.

Pétrus said...

There is no need to try and define heresy.

Canon Law is quite clear on the subject.

Canon Law # 751 "Heresy is the obstinate denial or doubt, after baptism, of a truth which must be believed by divine and catholic faith."

Sixupman said...

Eccleston Square and "wishie-washiness" - what a surprise!

Churches do not now attract the whole range of Catholics - from the over-pious to the absolute recalcitrants, the latter seemingly never able to lose the vestiges of Faith.

Pastors do not go out, as they once did, to chivvy potential congregants, but appear happy to allow parish cliques to take-over.

Then when Eccleston Square issues a document which de facto implies Catholicism is nothing special, what do you expect.

nickbris said...

There are a lot of us who went to School at 5yrs old,we did the Catechism,word by word every day until it was imprinted in our minds.

When we were 11 or 12 we made our first Confession and Communion and were Confirmed.

Most of us behaved the way we were taught in the Catechism,kept all the Holy Days of Obligation and went to Mass on Sunday.

Lots of new words have been bandied about lately and we are now being told that we are Heretics or CINOS. We might not know the correct words at the moment and have to use a memory card to follow the liturgy.

WE ARE CATHOLICS and do not want a bunch of Fifth Columnist posers telling us if we are true Catholics or not

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Father, for this post.
Maybe we have concentrated too much on having numbers rather than teaching. Frank Duff, founder of Legion of Mary, used to say "Quality is the key to quantity". and that "average Catholicism" was not to be confused with "normal Catholicism"!

MartinT said...

I suspect that in the good old days, there were just as many semi-practising Catholics who would not (if pressed) subscribe to every article of faith. The difference was that they kept their opinions to themself and did not tell the Church what to believe. It would have been a compliment too, an acknowledgment that my opinions are my own but the Church must be true to itself if it is to have any credibility.

Fr Ray Blake said...

No, Nickbris!
It is where the catechism was ignored that there are problems, not where the faith was accepted and lived but rather where it was reinvented.

GOR said...

The author of the article you linked to Father was right about bishops failing in their duty to preach and defend the fullness of the Faith. What stands out about the ‘silenced’ priests is that this didn’t begin yesterday. It has been going on for years and apparently no one in the hierarchy – episcopal or religious - stepped up to the plate and denounced it.

I was struck by a quote in another article, as follows:

"Across the board, there is a need for Catholics to come out in support of these men who have been silenced for speaking their mind…." he said.

This was Brendan Butler of ‘We Are Church Ireland’, quoted on the silencing of the priests.

Note how the issue is couched. The priests “are silenced for speaking their minds.”

Therein lies the problem. On the surface this seems to carry some weight. It is all about freedom of speech. That’s a good thing, right? We denounce regimes that limit or deny freedom of speech. People should have a right to speak their minds, no? Restricting it is oppression - allied to dictatorial regimes we despise. So this makes the Church – and a fortiori, the CDF – into oppressors of freedom.

But priests are not ordained to ‘speak their minds’. They are ordained to speak ‘the mind of Christ and His Church…’ And when they fail to do so, speak contrary to the teachings of the Church, or advocate error and rebellion, there are consequences. Having a pulpit enjoins responsibility. It is not provided for the dissemination of personal opinions but for preaching the Truth. That is a heavy responsibility.

Our Lord said “He who is not with Me is against Me” and priests who teach error are not just failing in their mission and endangering their own salvation but are imperiling the salvation of others. There are eternal consequences for this – much more dire than a human silencing…

George said...

There's also the heresy of the Right too. Unfortunately, all the heresy on the Left (contraception, abortion, gay marriage, etc.) occupies us. The heresy of the Left also does another thing. It gives the heresy of the Right cover. The Catholic advocates of war and usury are in the position of "defending" the Church against the Catholic advocates of sexual liberation.

That's why I like your blog, Father. You've helped open my eyes to all this. (I'm a former neo-con Catholic.)

berenike said...

Apparently there was an Easter sermon in the university church in Lublin one year that lasted less than a minute.

"Jesus Christ was buried and rose again. But it's not as though any of you believe it."

And the priest sat down.

amator Dei said...

St. Augustine said that the only heretics are those who call others heretics. If God is, as everyone must acknowledge, a great mystery, why do we need to stigmatise those who are merely trying to make sense of the mystery?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Can you give a reference for that allusion?

He refers in the City of God to heretics bickering amongst themselves and in the Confessions to squabbling groups of Manichees and other heretics, he certainly does not condemn the Church for defining who is not part of it.

JARay said...

I got my latest email from www.catholicculture.org
and it told me that in China there were 22,000 received into the Church this Easter.

Lynda said...

We've been experiencing heresy in Ireland from many priests, nuns and others who represent themselves as Catholic, for over 40 years. I grew up with it but, fortunately, was never misled by it (as I knew my Faith), unlike many other Catholics in Ireland. I weep internally for the destruction they have wrought in the Church, and society, in Ireland.

nickbris said...

I would imagine the priest in Lublin would have been speaking in Polish so there could have been an interpretation problem with what he is supposed to have said.

As a Polish Homily it is worthy of an entry in the Guinness book of Records.

David said...

It is so obvious that, where the Faith is taught without compromise - with love, with compassion, with understanding, with clarity and with joy - but without compromise, and where the priest in the liturgy "does the red and reads the black", the people respond.
Be in no doubt that there are such parishes and that there are such people. They're not perfect, but they know what the perfection is that they strive for, even if we all fall short.
Why then do so many bishops, priests and people seem to believe that what they make up on the spur of the moment is somehow better than what the church has developed and taught over centuries? Are they wicked, ignorant, arrogant, stupid?
We also suffer from too many words. The church's liturgy needs to be allowed to speak for itself. Well done in every aspect, it is a powerful tool. And then the actions of Catholics - even if it's only going into the church, making the sign of the cross, wearing a crucifix, doing small acts of kindness and justice in the name of Christ and His Church and above all being seen to enjoy being Catholics - these are ways of conversion. It is sad that enthusiasm is so unfashionable today - enthusiasm enthuses. Ask Joanna Bogle!

Cosmos said...

Be careful not to equate apples with oranges. While both sides certainly have their sins, one sin is rooted in potential misunderstandings or distortion of Church teachings which are at least arguably tolerated by the Church. The other sine is rooted in the belief that the Church has no authority to teach and that the Tradition is actually wrong (as in bad) in many regards. In other words, misapplication of the Church's teaching on usury and just war, however bad or self-serving, does not necessarily implicate the heart of one's Catholic faith. Direct rejection of teaching on sexual issues and the ability of the Church to teach on these topics does.

My experience is that there is a lot of emotional satisfaction and rhetorical power in rejecting both sides. But I think that Truth is better served by recognizing that the "neo-cons" imagine their goal to be the same as we do: the restoration of an authoritative, teaching Church.

ann couper-johnston said...

Thank God (literally!) that at last those Catholics who scatter their own opinions around freely and liberally, whether or whether not they are in line with the teaching of the Church, are being reined in.

Our Lord said: "Ye shall know the Truth and the Truth will set you free": He, God incarnate, also said: "I am the Way the Truth and the Life". He gave authority to His disciples to teach and to baptize, to give the message He had proclaimed by His life on earth.

If we do not give that message, we are depriving those outside the Church of the possibility of true freedom and leaving them enslaved to a lie, to whatever extent. Given that there is not a clear message from the Church, people who long for a rule of life, a way to live, are turning to the slavery that is Mohammedanism.

What an indictment of the Church!

George said...

I don't know, Cosmos. Although they can often seem to be 100% pro-Church authority, the NeoCons buck the system when it's convenient == namely, ignoring anything social gospel-related uttered by both JPII and BXVI and directly ignoring JPII's declaration that the Iraq War was not just.

berenike said...


My translation. He said (I quote from memory the report in a FB conversation a few days ago - I can't find it now)

"Chrystus został pogrzebiony i zmartwychwstał. Ale wy i tak w to nie wierzycie."

It could have been "Chrystus żył, umarł, i zmartwychwstał" or something like that.

The priest was, it was said in this FB discussion, ks Mieczysław Maliński.

Fr Francis Marsden said...

I was rather pleased to find that Fr Sean Fagan had been silenced. Not out of schadenfreude, but because when like me you try to explain the Church's proper teaching in a Catholic newspaper (the Catholic Times, Credo column), it's deeply discouraging to be attacked by a priest 24 years older, who quotes the books he has written and the colleges he has taught in, but who is undermining the Church's teaching.

Fr Fagan's acolytes, like the tirelessly pro-contraceptive Mrs Elizabeth Price, quote him similarly, to contradict Humanae Vitae etc.

To be attacked by atheists and unbelievers, or by Protestants and evangelicals - you accept that, fair enough, but to be put down by an elderly Marist priest who is himself contradicting the Church's teaching, is very annoying.

It's difficult enough at the best of times, in today's world, speaking up for Catholic moral teaching without being sabotaged from within the Church, albeit from Dublin, by dissident clerics and religious.

Some of these guys would be more honest if they joined the Anglican communion....

Lepanto said...

The Irish poll was undertaken by the inaccurately self-styled Association of Catholic (!) Priests so the questions might well have been constructed in a way intended to get the 'right' answers. While I do not doubt that things are bad in Ireland, there are some who would love to give the impression that they are worse.

Lynda said...

Dear Fr Marsden, We, Catholics, in Ireland (as opposed to the ACP's and dissidents' "Irish Catholics"!) know exactly what you mean and what that experience is like! Back in '04/'05, I took classes in moral and systematic theology at All Hallows in Dublin. I had thought the worst excesses of dissent were, by then, mostly in the past. Three of the four priests who never ackowledged in any way that they were priests, "taught" a dissident, non-Catholic theology. Fagan was often referenced with great respect, as of course, Curran, McBrien and the usual "rebels", along with a certain not-in-conformity-with-Church-teaching analysis of Rahner and others with very nuanced (!) writings. Can you imagine a basic course on moral theology with an extensive reading list but no mention of magisterial teachings or Veritatis Splendor. Of course, I would take my copy along, and the teacher would become apoplectic when I attempted to refer to it, particularly on the Catholic and NL concept of objective evil, which was apparently too difficult for him to grasp! Meanwhile, he would plug his "friend", Fr Sean Fagan's latest books, esp one that was called something along the lines of "Does Sin Change?", while denigrating "King Rat" (the then soon-to-be Pope Benedict). Yes, a unreconstructed, sixties' dissident. There was so much more and worse. I'll mention one that made me physically sick, such was its repugnance to the Faith and natural morality: when Mrs Terry Schiavo was killed by judicial fiat, the moral theology teacher, with the support of most of the class, stated his disgust with those who had fought for Mrs Schiavo's life! They were the ones who were evil according to that "moral theologian". I sure got v little Catholic Theology there, which is what I had gone there to learn! Needless to say, I didn't return the following year - or ever! Maybe I ought to have sued them for misselling or passing off or something!!

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