29Mar The Vatican is a ‘cold house’ for liberal Catholics, writes Kevin Hegarty

It has been ironically said that the three greatest lies in human history are ‘the cheque is in the post’, ‘of course I’ll still love you in the morning’ and ‘we’re from head office, we are here to help you’.

So the Irish Catholic hierarchy must have felt some trepidation akin to that felt by teachers when a whole-school evaluation is in the offing, after Pope Benedict announced in March 2010 that he was sending apostolic visitors to Ireland to examine church institutions. The announcement came in the wake of the publication of the Murphy report in December 2009 after which the Pope had summoned the bishops to Rome to account for their stewardship.

The report was a devastating indictment of the archdiocese of Dublin. It revealed they horrifying extent of the sexual abuse of children by clerics in the diocese and multiple cover-ups by successive superiors. The report was a culmination of over a decade of similar revelations that indicated there was something rotten at the heart of Irish Catholicism.

By 2009 the bishops were shell-shocked beleaguered and divided. The impenetrable façade of public episcopal unanimity that had characterised the Irish hierarchy since the late 19th century had shattered like the scramble for life boats on the ‘Titanic’. It was every man for himself. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, the church leader most trusted by abuse victims because of his passionate understanding of their pain seemed isolated by his colleagues.

In the leisurely manner that prevails in the Vatican it took a year for a team of apostolic visitors to be assembled and come to Ireland. They spent several weeks here last year, visiting church institutions and talking to individuals and groups.

Finally their report was published. Well, not really. It is disappointing that all we got is a seven-page summary. It is as if the report of the Mahon Tribunal was confined to an executive summary. The most positive thing the apostolic visitors have to say is their commendation of the stringent guidelines that now govern the protection of children in the Irish Catholic Church.  There is however, no acknowledgment of the Vatican’s own role in previous failures. The visitors praise especially the work of the  National Board for safeguarding children in the Catholic Church and advises that ‘it should continue to receive sufficient personnel and funding’.  For the church in Ireland this has been a steep learning curve whose summit has not yet been fully reached. There are still some clerics who claim privately that the crisis in the main is a creation of the liberal media.

There has however, been significant progress since the 1990s. Then the church’s response to sexual abuse cases was shrouded in secrecy and dominated by the paramount desire to protect the good name of the church. Anyone criticizing this approach was seen as a disloyal fomenter or low morale among the clergy.

The visitors proposal for reform in the Irish church are couched in conservative terms, a return to the spiritual; and theological cartography of the past. This is not surprising. Pope Benedict has a jaundiced view of the insights of the Second Vatican Council which pronounced an open and dialogical church. The visitors were chosen on the basis of orthodoxy rather than imagination.

They propose a return to the rigid and enclosed model of seminary training that existed up to the Second Vatican Council. Contact with the outside world is seen as a kind of contamination. I believe that this is a retrograde step. Students for the priesthood in Ireland are now few in number. They are usually rigidly pious and theologically conservative. I reckon they require regular exposure to secular reality rather than incarceration in a spiritual ghetto even if that is where they prefer to be. Should these students be eventually ordained they will have to minister in a complex world, not an incense-filled cocoon.

The visitors have a cut at liberal Irish Catholics  for holding ‘theological opinions at variance with the teaching of the Magisterium’. According to them we are not following the ‘authentic path’ of church renewal. How can they know that? I think it an arrogant assumption. Liberal Catholics, like myself, hope for a church that opens up the priesthood to married men and women, revised the position of contraception in ‘Humanae Vitae’ and that reverses the harsh insensitivity of its teaching on homosexuality. Many of us have come to our views as a result of honest and honourable reflection. The Vatican is a ‘cold house’ for us but we do expect respect for our freedom of conscience.

Sometimes it seems to me that the Vatican’s vision of an ideal Catholic community is an assembly of Rick Santorum lookalikes.

49 Responses

  1. Jo O'Sullivan

    Thank you for this Kevin. I read everything that appears on this website and have found myself troubled by those who advocate blind obedience to the teachings of the Magisterium. I had been putting my thoughts down on paper before I read your article, and I think this is the ideal place for me to submit the following:

    Two groups of children are walking along the road. One group is absolutely sure of its path home. These children do not have to look right or left; they do not have to explore side roads or look for markers along the way. They have unquestioning certainty that they will reach their desired destination by continuing to put one foot in front of the other along their current highway. They don’t really need each other on this journey because each one is quite secure in his/her personal journey. They may not even notice that little ones have been trampled on by the unwavering march of those that have gone before them. Or, if they do, they give them a hand up and tell them to rejoin the march.

    The other group of children is far less secure. They worry that this path may not be the best way home. They see side roads and wonder might they be the roads to follow? They have to turn to each other and debate which way they should turn. They all have to look out for markers along the way and point them out to each other. They have to comfort each other and reassure each other that they will get to their destination. They see the little trampled ones and pick them up and ask them what happened. They question themselves to see if, in fact, their walking this path has contributed to the knocking down of the little ones.

    Which group is having the easier journey?

    Which group is building relationship?

    I have a question for those of you who promote unquestioning adherence to the Magisterium. Had you been born into a different era in the Catholic Church, would you have accepted the ‘rightness’ of slavery? Of Catholics being the only people admitted to Heaven? Of women having to be churched before they could participate in the Sacraments after the birth of a baby?
    If your answer is “Yes”, then I can dismiss you from my mind – there’s no point in trying to dialogue with you. You cannot hear me.

    If your answer is “No! Of course I couldn’t accept the ‘rightness’ of such things!”, then can it just be conceivable that some of the current teachings need to be examined in the light of the ever developing understanding of the human condition, psychologically and sociologically?

    You claim that the way forward is to adhere to current teachings – to me, that means being in the first group of children. It means being people of certitude, not people of faith. If you have no doubts about how to live, you don’t need FAITH. If a person who jumps out of a plane with a parachute feels no fear, then he doesn’t need courage! To me the correlation between doubt and faith is like the one between fear and courage. The greater the one, the stronger the other to keep on trying to overcome it.
    Being certain of your ground means missing out on the struggle of questioning and supporting and comforting and reassuring that the second group of children experience in the HOPE that they will get home. (Could it be possible that all of these things add up to what we call LOVE?)

    I make no apology for being ‘poorly catechized’ – I don’t think that any of Christ’s lessons to us involved doctrine and dogma – I think they involved learning to live in the world. Actually I think he made a point of warning us against the ‘experts’ and the ‘learned’’. Did he not say something about revealing things to the little children?

    It has taken me quite a long time to overcome my feelings of unworthiness to be part of any dialogue within the Catholic Church. The reason it was so, is precisely because those who were ‘learned’ could quote doctrine, dogma, Canon law and use language that is almost unintelligible to me. I am a ‘child’ in matters of ‘studied’ Catholicism. My early indoctrination did a good job in convincing me I always had to rely on others to ‘form’ me – I was merely a sheep in the flock. But I see things differently now.

    I cannot quote chapter and verse, but I read Scripture and ponder. I cannot write a well referenced sermon on aspects of church teaching, but I get up every morning and ask God to help me be Christ’s hands and feet and eyes and ears and mouth today.
    I cannot ever know that I have the correct answers to anything – in fact I cannot ever know that I’m even asking the right questions – but I can turn in all humility to my God and say “Guide me right, Abba”. I can then seek the markers in my relating to the people I meet the situations I encounter in my life so that I act in the way which feels right in my heart and soul.

    I can never win an argument with people who have studied Ecclesiology, Theology, Canon Law, Catechetics etc. I would not even presume to try and have an intellectual debate with you. Any one of you can run rings around me!

    But I believe in my heart that my loving God doesn’t care in the slightest that I am ‘ignorant’ in such matters. My whole purpose in life is to model myself as best as possible on Christ. I participate in the weekly community celebration that is Eucharist, because that’s where we come together to support each other and gain spiritual nourishment for our on-going journey. I try to give of my time and talent to build up my parish community and I continue to question and ponder and have an open heart and mind. If that is ignoring, rewriting or redefining Catholicism, then so be it.

    And, most importantly, I thank God for those in my church who hold ‘theological opinions at variance with the teaching of the Magisterium’. Without them, I would have to walk away from the Catholic Church. I would not be doing it as protest, in anger, or because I found its teachings too ‘difficult’ and I wanted an easy life. I would be doing it because my conscience would not allow me to stay.

    It seems quite clear that the powers that be view those who believe in opening up dialogue and questioning the current teachings of the Magisterium are seeking to ‘destroy the Catholic faith by diluting her doctrines and sweetening what is often hard to take’. If that were the case down through the years, then Catholicism would still support slavery, would still believe in its own exclusive rights to Heaven, would still require women to be churched after childbirth……….

    No. I’ll stay with the uncertain children, those of us who have the humility to realize that we cannot actually KNOW that we’re right but we can live in FAITH, HOPE and LOVE.

  2. Wendy Murphy

    Like Jo, I haven’t quite walked away yet and (at the moment) stay for similar reasons. After a period of intense anger, I’m finding it easier now to ponder and question in a more relaxed way. Also, in a way, recent events in the RCC have set me free. I’ve just about given up worrying about the fundamentalists – I know their destructive negativity will not succeed. Thank you very much Jo, Kevin, Eddie and others at ACP.

  3. Conor McCann

    Jo, I am one of those ‘educated people’ and I wish I had your eloquence. I wish that our teachers would speak like you, I wish that the homilies of our preachers were as inspiring and as well thought out as what you have written. It just goes to prove your point that we learn on our journey, with the second group of children, from looking around and dialoging with each other and our surroundings and this has great value and much to offer to the rest of us struggling pilgrims. God Bless you and please keep commenting, thinking and Theologising because you are most certainly a Theologian. Better Theology is often learned in the university of life as opposed to ‘incense filled cocoons’

  4. Gail

    Jo, I was very moved by your response. It resounds with a deep love of God. As a text, it says far more to me than many of the pious moralising rants that pass for homilies in some many churches. Sadly I expect you will be roundly criticised by some of those blinkered narrow-minded catholics-of-absolute-certitude who frequent this site.

    You say that you get up every morning and ask God to help you to be Christ’s hands and eyes and feet and ears and mouth – that says it all. What more could the Lord ask of us than to pray that. As someone who struggles to follow Christ, and whose connection to the institutional church becomes more tenuous after each appalling sermon, I take great heart that people like you are in the church – it gives me great hope. It reminds me that we owe it to God and to each other not to let the bullies take over. Thank you.

  5. Shane

    Fr Hegarty’s fears are exaggerated. The idea that Pope Benedict (an extreme liberal peritus at the Second Vatican Council) is determined to return the Church to pre-conciliar times (if only!) is so far removed from reality it’s laughable. The Holy Father is only very mildly conservative and about as ‘traditional’ as a Toyota truck.

  6. Martin

    This article is pretty patronising towards the seminarians of Maynooth. I know several and I disagree with this article.

  7. Sean (Derry)

    Jo, I can empathise with you on your journey but finding the correct path home is not as daunting or difficult as it might first appear, in fact all the sign posting has already been erected by the Catholic Church. The prophet Jeremiah (6:16) gives some very trustworthy advice when in doubt about direction,
    ‘This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
    The ancient paths have been well trod by generations of Catholics who have left a visible path and for us fortunate enough to already belong to the one true Church (yes there really is only ‘one’ true Church) then it is just a matter of following her infallible teachings. This does not make the journey easy, in fact the danger is that our human tendency to gravitate towards sin, often makes the many side roads appear more interesting and exciting than the path to God.
    With regards to debate, discussion, dialogue or questioning on various issues within the Church, that has always been the case and does not pose any problem or conflict with our membership of the Church. However there are matters of faith and morals that have been dogmatically defined and therefore forms part of the deposit of faith, guaranteed as infallible by the Holy Spirit, and which we as Catholics must believe. On these matters there is no room for ‘ignoring, rewriting or redefining’ to suit our personal tastes or beliefs.
    Regarding some of your other points (briefly), the practice of ‘Churching’ was in fact a special blessing given to mothers after childbirth (some would wish us to believe that it was some kind of derogatory ceremony). You may be surprised to know that the Catholic Church holds as Dogma that “Outside the Church there is no salvation” which is a good enough reason that we hold fast to her teachings and as a true act of love attempt to draw as many as possible to the one true church for their salvation.

  8. Eileen

    Thanks so much Kevin for stating the truth and calling for the compassion of Christ. The encouraging comments that followed did me good. Jo, your parable is inspirational and you articulate so accurately the kind of discipleship to which Jesus calls us all. “If you have no doubts about how to live, you don’t need faith.” There’s one for the ‘catholics of absolute certitude’ mentioned by Gail! I believe Jo’s contribution is really Good News and would love if it were published so that so many people who are struggling and barely hanging on, could be encouraged and supported. God bless you all.

  9. sean eile

    The seminarians who contribute here seem more Trent than Vat 2. As a species their place in the modern world reminds me of that of the corncrakes.

  10. Martin

    Good post Sean. Reminds me of the analogy that the doctrines of the Church are sure lights leading us towards God. If we are attracted by fairy lights in the woods, we shall become hopelessly lost, and we may not find our way back to the right path.

  11. Jo O'Sullivan

    Thank you Sean (Derry) and Seminarian 2 (I wish I had a name for you) for taking the time and the trouble to read my ponderings and respond to them. I value your responses. I will take what you say on board and reflect on it all.
    These are just my immediate reactions.
    Sean, thank you for the quote from Jeremiah. The way I read that is that the second group of children in my previous contribution is doing just that – with each new step on the road, they are stopping and looking and asking where the good way is. The ‘certain’ children never have to stop and ask – they just asked once and got an answer “Follow Catholicism as is now is” and they never have to wonder again!
    And Seminarian 2, can you tell me what did Jesus say to those to adhered to a distorted version of the law?

  12. Brendan McCarthy

    I’m puzzled by the talk of dissent, of ‘theological opinions at variance with the teaching of the Magisterium’.

    The number of Catholics who dissent on credal questions is vanishingly small. The contentious areas are those where lay people have particular insights, mostly ignored.

    Catholic sexual teaching comes from an ethos where celibacy is more valued. It has not been informed by sexually active Catholics who know the messiness of sex and of creating life and relationships. Someone recently argued that while Catholic Social Thinking had outstanding relevance in today’s world, that Catholic sexual teachiing read like a piece of broken computer code.

    The other contentious area is governance, where the leadership of today’s church is in dissent from the Second Vatican Council. Governance, save in some small essentials, is an accident of history: there is nothing necessary about it. We are not requred to acquiesce in the way today’s church is run.

    And because liturgy reflects governance (and I’m thinking of the meaning of liturgy as ‘public work’), it follows that it will be an area of contention.

  13. Paddy Ferry

    Jo, I am moved by your wonderful piece above. You sum up so eloquently the position and feelings of many of us. And, you are absolutely right, the problem with the ultra-conservatives is that they lack faith — they don’t need it because they have certainty.
    I have only read your piece above properly this morning – Saturday – and I’m sorry I had’nt read it more fully before I posted my response last night to Seamus Ahearne’s piece; and what I shared about Fr. Bernard Haring’s rejection of the “stubborn, stupid obedience of Christians” to authority. The great Bernard would have agreed completely with everything you say. And he not only was our greatest moral theologian – ( I think he was anyway — I have to admit I don’t know many moral theologians — maybe Eddie or Joe could confirm) but also the man who drafted Gaudium et Spes, the Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World at Vatican II. So, Jo, you are in great company. And, thank you so much for all you have shared with us recently. I think we are all helping each other by our sharing to hang onto our faith and our sanity in this current model of our beloved Catholic Church.
    Paddy.

  14. Seminarian II

    Jo and Theodore, I would like to invite you both to reflect with me on Matthew 7:7-14. “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

    These are strong words!

    There is a choice of two ways! It seems that the correct way is a hard and narrow way. “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:21-32

    There my friends is the freedom we have. We may choose Christ, or choose to reject him. It is afforded to each person by the Church.

    Our love for Christ ought to help us make our decision.

  15. Paddy Banville

    Jo and friends,

    Since we’re on the subject of certainty – uncertainty … I’m a priest (as you’re probably aware) and the primary reason I’m a Catholic priest is that I’m 100% certain that when I receive Communion I receive the person of Jesus Christ and all his work of redemption, it’s fruit and power, mine, packaged if you like by God into this physical point of contact. If I wasn’t so certain I’d have become a Protestant minister a long time ago!

    Paddy

  16. Martin

    Brendan, it is ultimately up to the Papal Magisterium to correct any distortions in the interpretations of the Vatican Council II documents. The Church is not held hostage to a distorted reading of Vatican II. The Church teaching on sex is timeless. Just because we live in a very hedonistic, sex-obsessed world (little different to that of Pagan Rome), doesn’t mean that the teaching is now obsolete. Such a position is more akin to Modernism than Catholicism. The Church is an expert on humanity, which includes sex. One doesn’t have to be ‘sexually active’ to have useful insights into the human condition. Such a position would be one of Experientialism, and that is quite a patronising and obnoxious position to adopt, not to mention one of a certain experiential elitism. In that case, Our Lord Jesus Christ has nothing useful to say about sex, ignorant as he must inevitably be according to this way of thinking.

  17. Mary Burke

    Martin, if by claiming that the church’s teaching on sex is timeless, you are suggesting that it doesn’t change, or that it shouldn’t change, you are wrong.
    Caesarius of Arles, Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas and Duns Scotus all held that anyone who had sexual relations with a menstruating women committed a mortal sin. Yet this is the very practice recommended by the proponents of ‘natural’ family planning.

  18. Alice W

    Fr, you are mistaken in your beliefs.

    It’s not the teachings of the Church which has led to clerical child abuse – it’s the absence of it.
    It’s men who became priests for other reasons than because they had a vocation to serve God’s people.
    It’s because some men were confused with their sexuality and to avoid questions being asked, joined the seminary instead.
    It’s because at-risk men looked for a role in which what they said went, and clericalism was rampant in a society that asked no questions.
    It’s because Irish families looked upon their priests with quasi God-like awe, instead of seeing them as a human being capable of sin like them.
    It’s because of this that some priests used that as an excuse to sin – with children.
    It’s because some women looked upon their priests as acceptable substitute fathers for their fatherless children, and gave away their parental rights to someone who didn’t have a right to it.
    It’s because bishops had no clue about what causes this type of abuse and how to fix it.
    It’s because bishops hoped that it would never happen twice.
    It’s because bishops were encouraged to be ‘pastoral’ and not firm.
    It’s because a silent Irish society let it happen, knew about it, and said nothing.
    It’s because the State knew what was happening and failed to protect it’s citizens, and enforce the law on it’s citizens who broke it.

    And now that Irish society thinks it to be too painful to face up to their responsibility in letting this happen.
    And now they blame everyone else. The ‘Vatican’ – because they are far away and an easy target. The ‘Church’ because that’s sufficiently obscure to mean anyone and no-one. Church teachings, because they’re unpopular and hard to live up to.
    Everyone and everything except the truth. Sin is ugly and we are all capable of it. And that’s the truth.

  19. Joe O'Leary

    Martin, the church teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, to take one example, has changed many times, and is in a state of flux just now, to judge from the treatment of the petrine privilege in the current codex of canon law.

  20. Eddie Finnegan

    Kevin, time to reclaim the territory. Let’s stop labelling ourselves. The ACP has it right – not the ‘ALCP’ or the ‘APCP’. “The Vatican is a ‘cold house’ for Catholics” would be more accurate. Let others label us, if they must, and if they fancy festooning themselves with Polish, Italian or Bavarian designer labels such as ‘traditional’, ‘continuity’, ‘pionono’, ‘conservative’, ‘restorationist’, ‘roman’, ‘re(tro)gressive’ or ‘trentino’ – well you know how it is with youth, they’ll grow out of it; well, some will. Self-tagging as liberal or progressive is just another form of the old ghetto cocoonery, minus the incense. ‘Catholic’ is all the tag we need.
    Paddy (Ferry), thank you for championing Fr Bernard Ha(e)ring. No, I’m certainly not the man to judge Haring’s place in moral theology’s global rankings, though Joe, Kevin and others on this site are much more qualified to give an opinion. What I do know is that in 1964/65 it was Enda McDonagh’s introduction to us of Haring, Congar and Rahner that detained me in his theology classes for nearly a year after I’d already decided to depart Maynooth ‘ad vota saecularia’ as they used say.
    That, of course, was the earlier Haring of ‘The Law of Christ’ fame. Single-handedly, almost, with those three volumes he had helped our generation escape the dead hand of the manual tradition. It was his delight with the same “The Law of Christ” that led John XXIII to call Haring out of the shadows as he did with Congar and others.
    I don’t suppose there’s another moral theologian so largely responsible for the thinking and shaping of a Church Constitution (Gaudium et Spes) whose thought and teaching is the main target of a papal encyclical three decades later (1965-93). Of course where a man stood when the red line was drawn in 1968 could determine whether he’d be barred from gaining stripes in the Church Militant or being fast-tracked to sainthood in the Church Triumphant. It didn’t just happen to Germans or Poles.

  21. Rory Connor

    The fact that the Vatican is a “cold house” for “liberal” Catholics may have something to do with its experience of a certain type of Catholic liberalism that took off after the Vatican Council especially in the USA and including members of the hierarchy.
    <>
    The following is from an article by US priest Father Joseph Wilson entitled “The Enemy Within” in the Catholic World Report (4 July 2002). He is describing his experiences in a post-Vatican II seminary in the United States.
    <>
    …. I was in the seminary 1977-1986. The theologate from which I graduated was the Dallas seminary. The vice rector in charge of the collegians there – under whose influence the college wing of the seminary deteriorated dramatically, discipline eroded, sexually scandalous situations proliferated and good men abandoned their vocations in disgust – left the priesthood a year after I graduated, to “marry” the President of the Dallas Gay Alliance. He thoughtfully invited the seminarians to the festivities. He had been our Moral Theology professor (he studied for his doctorate in moral theology at the local Methodist university), in whose class we used Father Andre Guindon’s text, The Sexual Language. This was a fascinating work, in the pages of which I learned, for example, that gay sex is in some ways preferable to straight sex because it is more innovative, expressive, playful.
    <>
    This, ….. was part of my formation for the sacred priesthood. It was and is typical in this country that young men presenting themselves for formation are subjected to situations which undermine their faith and morals. That is not because the seminary is wired for cable TV. It is because the bishops of this country permit it to be so.
    …..
    <>
    Does Father Hegarty really think that the reaction against this kind of Church can be explained by Pope Benedict having “a jaundiced view of the insights of the Second Vatican Council which pronounced an open and dialogical church”?

  22. Joe O'Leary

    Rory, I just read a piece in a German newspaper about a very active gay seminarian, who is also HIV positive, and sailing full steam ahead to ordination, convinced of a divine call (he entered in his mid twenties). The impression the article conveys is that the explicit gay liberalism in some places, which you refer to, has now morphed into a subterranean current of a new kind, which coexists with very conservative views on liturgy, etc.

  23. Eddie Finnegan

    It’s a truly historical pity that Rory’s Fr Joseph Wilson’s former vice-rector and moral theology professor didn’t postpone his moral theology doctorate at SMU for another decade or so. He’d have benefited greatly from the lectures of a world class moral theologian, Fr Charles Curran, who for two decades past has found Southern Methodist University more Catholic and more Christian than his old CUA. Obviously young American Catholics agree with him, or may have been attracted by his presence: SMU has two or three thousand more Catholics than Methodists. It may be, of course, that Charles Curran has been busy proselytising and converting Texas’s young Wesleyans to Rome . . . but somehow I think probably not.

  24. Sean

    What is a ‘liberal’ Catholic? Surely there are just ‘Catholics’ who are so by their assent to the teachings of the Church in faithfulness to the Magisterium. What disturbs me about ‘liberal’ priests is that they seem to deliberately flaunt the Magisterium. It was priests who caused the devastation in the Irish Church – a minority perhaps – and now it seems to be some priests, but very vocal ones, who are determined to further undermine its teachings on sexual ethics. If liberal Catholics do not like the teachings of the Church as laid out in Vatican II (yes, indeed), in innumerable papal documents, and in the Catechism, I cannot for the life of me understand why they don’t find another more congenial Church – e.g. the mainstream Protestant Churches. They will find there all they are looking for: acceptance of homosexuality, ‘liberal’ attitudes to sexual ethics, women priests, etc., etc.

  25. Joe O'Leary

    Delighted to hear that Catholics are flocking to Curran in SMU.

  26. Jo O'Sullivan

    Thank you to all of you who have intimated that what I’ve written isn’t necessarily an indication that I’m a sadly ignorant, loose-living, watered down Catholic, but is, as I truly mean it to be, the result of the ponderings of someone who is seeking the truth with a sincere heart. It is wonderful to feel I’m not alone.
    I’m aware that the conversation has moved on, but I had to take my time to think!I’ve been reflecting on the responses of Sean (Derry), Seminarian 2, Martin, and others to my piece on certitude/faith. And, again, I thank you for your comments.
    FAIRY LIGHTS AND GATES
    There’s one thing I feel I really have to call you to task on. That’s the assumption that I’m somehow looking for the ‘easy’ path. Sean, you suggest that “finding the correct path home is not as daunting or difficult as it might first appear, in fact all the sign posting has already been erected by the Catholic Church.” Sure that wouldn’t make it daunting at all – it would be easy to follow a path that has already been marked out. My difficulty is that I’m not at all certain that the path the Institutional Catholic Church is on right now IS the correct path.
    As a parent who had to negotiate the turbulent waters of adolescence with my children, I often used to think that, if I only knew for certain the correct course of action in any situation – tough love or non-judgmental acceptance and gentle guidance – I could follow it to the letter and have an easy mind and heart!
    Uncertainty does not attract me like “fairy lights in the woods”, Martin. Believe me, knowing something with absolute certainty has a much brighter sparkle to it!
    And, Seminarian 2, if I were asked which gate is wide and broad and which one is narrow, I would have to answer that doubt and self-questioning feels like a much narrower gate than 100% sure-footedness.
    Earlier in my life, I was full of certainty; I was happy (and maybe just a bit smug) that I was lucky enough to be born into the one true faith and I never had to worry about thinking things out for myself. All I had to do was accept things like
    “there are matters of faith and morals that have been dogmatically defined and therefore forms part of the deposit of faith, guaranteed as infallible by the Holy Spirit, and which we as Catholics must believe.”
    “the authoritative, definitively held, and infallibly proposed teachings of the Magisterium, on matters of faith and morals are to be regarded by all Catholics as expressions of the mind of Christ, and are to be accepted as true.” (Seminarian 2)
    I accepted, blindly, that if I even dared to ask questions, I would become hopelessly lost, and might not find my way back to the right path. (to paraphrase Martin)
    In fact, I was in a double bind because, even THINKING about questions, was an indication of the sin of pride and arrogance!
    But life has shown me too many times the dangers of believing that I have the ultimate and only truth on my side. In my own personal relationships I have come to realize that, if I feel and claim I’m 100% right, there’s trouble in store! If I’m absolutely certain of my particular position, then I don’t even allow myself to hear what the other person is saying. I may pay lip-service to listening, but, sure, I’m right anyway so there’s nothing for me to hear! The other person simply has to accept that I’m right and he’s wrong (it generally is a “He”!).
    I look at all the people/groups who are full sure that THEY are ‘right’ – that their world view is the ‘correct’ one. The Israelis are right and the Palestinians are right. The Northern Ireland Loyalists are right and the Republicans are right. I could go on and on!
    ‘ONE, TRUE CHURCH’
    It actually saddens me to read Sean’s assertion that
    “the Catholic Church holds as Dogma that “Outside the Church there is no salvation”
    Please, somebody, tell me that that is NOT current theology. If it is, I may have to give up on Catholicism. I’m afraid I just cannot accept that the Catholic faith is the only path to ‘salvation’. I cannot be part of that kind of smug arrogance. Is there not a danger that we are trying to dictate to God and control God by asserting our way is the only TRUE way?
    You see, I just can’t accept that God is that small anymore. I can’t believe God has dictated that there is one true way to live and the people who believe in other ways of relating to their Creator are WRONG! A rule- and- regulation- bound God is a very ‘human’ entity – a stern, paternalistic parent of little children. The concept of God I now have is way beyond human understanding, but insofar as I can grasp God’s love, it is like the love of a parent for adult children. Even in my limited human way, I know that the greatest gifts I have given my children are my unconditional love and my respect for their ability to think for themselves. For me, it is not an indication of love to impose any “musts” on them. And I certainly don’t tell them “You MUST believe this.”
    CHURCH TEACHING ON SEXUALITY
    Martin, I am delighted that you say “The Church is an expert on humanity, which includes sex” because the Church is, of course, you and me and all of us who are fully paid up members by virtue of our baptism. Is it not high time that ALL of us, those who experience the messiness of sex (as Brendan so eloquently put it!) as well as those who choose a path of celibacy, dialogue together to see if, perhaps, a revised understanding of what Christ wanted of us, can be discerned? It’s simply illogical that men who have chosen to live outside of the intimate relationship – who CANNOT understand the intricacies of male/female relationships (God knows, most married men who have spent years in intimate relationships with their female partners confess that they STILL don’t understand women!), should be able to discern ‘the mind of Christ’.
    Even to suggest that it is so is, to MY mind, quite a patronising position to adopt. And I’m not at all convinced that our modern world is any more “hedonistic, sex-obsessed” than it ever was. It’s just that we’re far more aware of it now as the result of open, mass communication.
    THE CENTRALITY OF EUCHARIST
    And, Paddy (Banville), I do accept that receiving Communion is my saying “Yes” to being part of Christ’s Body – it’s my being, literally, in communion with my brothers and sisters and my nourishment to sustain me along the way. But that’s what makes it so awful to me that so many wonderful people are denied participation in the Eucharist – not because they have rejected God’s love by using and abusing people around them – but simply because they are being true to themselves – be that as a result of their God- given sexual orientation, or the ‘messiness’ of broken relationships or so many other factors that the rule-and-regulation-bound institution has decreed puts them beyond the Pale.
    THE VISITATORS
    Padraig, your frustration about the Summary Report on the Visitation is palpable. To me, the whole Visitation (why not call it a ‘Visit’?) smacks of the lip-service of listening that I described earlier. “We’ll sit down with you and pretend to listen, but we already know what’s needed here so we’re not REALLY hearing what you say.”
    THIS FORUM
    I am deeply grateful that this forum exists. Without it, I would not be able to ‘hear’ the voices of those who genuinely feel that the way forward for our Church is to adhere to the dictates of the Magisterium ( I DO hear you, my friends and I respect your views) and the voices of those who feel, with equal sincerity, that those dictates need to be challenged. It’s only by being exposed to as many different voices as possible that I can discern what sits best for me at this moment in time.
    And that just leads me to my last question. Why can’t the leadership of the church recognize that questioning and open dialogue – with absolutely NO ‘No-go areas’ is NOT something to be feared?

  27. Sean (Derry)

    I agree Sean, although I am loathed to see any baptised Catholic or ordained Catholic priest leave the One true Church, I think if there comes a time when genuine questioning of our faith is replaced by individual interpretation of doctrine, which is directly opposed to Divine dogmatic truth, then serious consideration must be given to either humbling oneself to obedience or moving on. History shows how this has lead to hundreds of various forms of Christian religions, in fact as you suggest, there is a form of Christianity to suit everyone in the audience.
    But the fact remains that there are Four Marks of the true Church, i.e. One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. One means one, subject and faithful to the Pope and the Magisterium, therefore if only this one Mark is missing then it is not Catholic but is instead a “false” claimant.
    I ask all ‘liberal’ Catholics, if we are only subject to our own individual wish list and private interpretation of what the Church is, who if anyone should impose limits and structure to it?, or what would make the Catholic Church unique from every other false religion? So far we have heard calls for married priests, gay priests, women priests, but why impose the limits at this point, why should we not, for example, have ‘married’ gay priests, or priests ‘living’ with a girlfriend. If we can redefine what the word ‘married’ or ‘family’ means, why can we not redefine the term ‘priest’ to include those who have not been ordained but ‘feel’ called. If we can remove alter rails and move the tabernacle out of the way, why not replace the altar with a table. Then since everyone goes to the shopping centres on Sundays, why bother having the mass in the Church, lets just have a nice ‘service’ outside Marks & Spencers. And why limit the Eucharist to just Catholics, sure doesn’t Jesus love everyone?
    It may sound that I am being flippant but I have either heard or seen all those things that I have mentioned and that’s before mentioning the ‘inspired’ theology that is doing the rounds.
    I am therefore not surprised to when Joe says he is ‘delighted’ with Catholics flocking to a ‘Methodist’ University to listen to the self-inspired ramblings of a ‘Catholic’ theologian who has been banned from preaching at Catholic Universities by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
    Pope Benedict XV (1914–1922), Encyclical Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum: “Such is the nature of the Catholic faith that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole, or as a whole rejected: This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.”
    or for those who believe the Church began after Vatican II:
    Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 14: “They could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it, or to remain in it.”

  28. Eddie Finnegan

    @Sean (24 above). No, I think if anyone has been “flaunting the Magisterium” on this site it must be Martin, Sean(Derry), your good self, Sem2 and a few others. Other more liberal interlocutors (not on this site of course, perish the thought!) may occasionally be tempted to flout their Majesties.

  29. Sean (Derry)

    Jo O’Sullivan,
    sorry I missed your post before replying above.
    You seem very unsure about placing your total faith and trust in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has Christ as its head so have no fear. The Pope (the Vicar of Christ), is the Church’s visible earthly head appointed by Christ, so have no fear. Instead fear those within the body of the Church who will rebel against the true teachings of the Church. These people are not brave heroes, they are enemies of the Church. However we have the certainty from the mouth of Our Lord that the Church cannot be defeated under the leadership of the Pope, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
    You seem to ask with a sense of trepidation if the Church still believes that it is the One True Church. You appear to fear that this is the case rather than rejoicing in the truth of the fact.
    May I ask you Jo what do you mean when you profess through the creed that “I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic church”?
    We are clearly stating and professing with certainty that there is in only one (not two, three nor four true Churches.), holy, (because it was established by God), Catholic (not protestant nor any other religion) and Apostolic (descended in an unbroken line from the apostles of Jesus Christ).
    It is not you or I who have to worry about being 100% right, we only have to believe that God is 100% right when he established His Church on earth under the guidance and protection of the Holy Spirit. I have never felt that thinking about or asking questions was ever a problem and certainly not an ‘indication of the sin of pride and arrogance!’ for believe me I have asked many many questions. Yet despite every time I thought the Church had it wrong and that I knew best, I was always pleasantly surprised to find that the Church were actually right. Sure I accept that individuals are often wrong but that is why we do not place our faith in individuals. However, when we trace back the beliefs of our Holy Mother Church over the many centuries it is easy to understand the truth. It seems harsh to you that the Church teaches ‘no salvation outside the Catholic Church’ but this is also a blessing in knowing where we can be saved. Logically, if there is only ‘one’ true Church, as we profess, then it follows that this is the only Church that can save, we could not expect to be saved through a false Church for what would have been the point of our Lord establishing a ‘true’ church if any old church would suffice. Just as the ark was the only source of salvation at the time of the great flood, so now is the Catholic Church the only hope of salvation for mankind. It is true that the Church does not dare to place any limits on the mercy of God and we hope that through the works and prayers of the Catholic Church and the countless offerings of the most holy sacrifice of the Mass that others shall be saved (through the Catholic Church) but we must strive to bring as many as possible into the ark ‘.. bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.”
    You may find it helpful to read the Church’s teaching on extra Ecclesiam nulla salus (outside the church there is no salvation). This has been consistently taught for centuries, so please don’t throw in the towel straight away. Keep questioning but always follow the answers from ‘ancient paths’ and ancient teachings which have never changed, and you won’t go far wrong, I promise you, no, that should read God promises you.

  30. Martin

    Young people love a challenge. The beauty of the Catholic faith is that it is challenging and that makes life more interesting in many ways. The endless pursuit of pleasure is not satisfying and eventually ends in, at best, quiet despair interspersed with periods of pleasure grabbed whenever it is available. Lukewarmness is boring. ‘Liberal Catholicism’ is boring. We are all dying of boredom. If we are not burning with zeal and love of JESUS CHRIST then we are dead, no matter what anyone else says. We need the renewal of our minds according to the mind of Christ shown to us by the Catholic Church Who teaches with the authority of JESUS CHRIST. Compromises with the world which attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable (holiness and sin) are doomed to failure.

  31. Joe O'Leary

    Married gay priests is not science fiction — many Dutch priests formed civil partnerships with a man — at least one Irish priest has done so.

    This thread is plagued by the false idea of magisterial immutability on moral issues; history confutes it; see the works of J. Noonan. Catholics should be trying to retrieve the wisdom, the expertise on humanity, buried in Catholic traditon — not obsessing about misstated claims about the magisterium.

  32. Sean Walsh

    For me, the humbling truth is that I am now nearer to the Good Shepherd – and to my neighbour – than when I was in the ‘active’ priesthood…

  33. Gerard Flynn

    Sean (Derry), what is your objection to the concept of the development of doctrine? It is an illusion to refer to ancient teachings which have never changed.
    It will be helpful, as a starting point, to distinguish between faith and belief. Faith, as God’s offer of Godself to us in relationship doesn’t change. That relationship may grow or decline but God’s love is constant and dependable.
    Christian belief, on the other hand, may be described as Christians’ understanding at any point in history of God and of human beings in relation to God. That understanding will rely on the human sciences. As they advance it may deepen. Change is an inescapable part of this phenomenon.
    The real challenge is to be able to differentiate in contemporary culture between what is of merely ephemeral interest and what is of enduring significance.

  34. Mary O Vallely

    I found Sean Walsh’s comment profoundly moving. However I wonder if it is not just a wonderful marriage and children which brought about this level of awareness and compassion. He may have been a wonderful priest because of what he had learned through being with people in their pain and joyous moments anyway. I watched a woman approach one of our older priests after mass yesterday. Her mother is gravely ill and the level of suffering and distress on her face is all too evident. This priest will be her rock, her support, her guiding hand through the bewildering and traumatic days ahead.I know this priest has the compassion for this task but wonder how many of the younger ones do.Life teaches us that it is the heart that speaks to us of Christ’s love and compassion. Sometimes rules have to take second place. On that note it disturbs me to see that the Vatican Thought Police are investigating “liberal views”. No doubt they are patrolling this site. I want to reiterate Jo O’Sullivan’s plea that we continue to listen to each other and share our honest ponderings here. This site is a breath of fresh air and God bless all those who started it. May the Holy Spirit continue to give them and all of us courage and guidance.

  35. Seminarian II

    Jo, I have read your comments and reflected on them. I encourage you to reflect upon paragraph 22 of Vatican II’s Gaudium et Spes and Rom. 8:32. This is what I turned to when I was dealing with the question of salvation outside the Church. All preconceived notions will be shattered, I assure you. You will find your reasons more in step with the Conciliar document than the views proclaimed by others on this site.

  36. Sean (Derry)

    Gerard, I do not object to the concept of development of doctrine. What I object to is the false belief that an individual can reinvent doctrine through personal, private revelation. As we know, public revelation ended with the death of the last apostle and there will be no ‘new’ revelation until the second coming. Whilst it is always possible for us to better understand (develop) doctrine, it is not possible to change what has already been revealed. It is the duty of Holy mother Church to preserve the doctrine undiluted, unchanged and undefiled.
    God is truth and the truth of yesterday is the same as the truth of today and the truth of tomorrow. If doctrine needs to be developed because of any potential of a heretical understanding, e.g. the ordination of women, it is the Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to which we must look to for any clarification or guidance.
    As, the then, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote, “Every believer is required to give firm and definitive assent to these truths based on faith in the Holy Spirit’s assistance to the Church’s Magisterium, and on the Catholic doctrine of the infallibility of the Magisterium in these matters. Whoever denies these truths would be in a position of rejecting a truth of Catholic doctrine and would therefore, no longer be in full communion with the Catholic Church.”

  37. MM

    When we talk about Church very often we mean denomination. To reduce what it means to be Catholic to a mere deference to a clerical system of church governance and all that goes with that, is sad indeed. What makes me Catholic is the belief that everyone belongs; i.e. the spark of the divine presence in everyone and everything. This is what we celebrate every Sunday in the Eucharist – God incarnate in His creation; the body of Christ recognised is the bread and wine and in the people gathered in the pews; one incarnate body representing and acknowledging the universal presence of the Risen Christ. Also what makes me Catholic is my commitment and engagement in community, in my parish and beyond. So though I may disagree with particular church teachings handed down by the magisterium, there is nothing I need to leave and nowhere I need to go. In relation to there being ‘no salvation outside the church’; that the creator would limit ‘salvation’ to those few who give total intellectual assent to a defined dogma (can we define mystery?) and condemn everyone else to never ending conscious torment is not ‘Good News’ by any stretch of the imagination. Whatever ‘salvation’ means, it has to mean more than that. Maybe for us humans God’s divine love seems too good to be true, so we have to put human (religious) conditions on it. But just maybe the ‘Good News’ really is better than we dare to believe.
    Sean (Derry) writes above: “Then since everyone goes to the shopping centres on Sundays, why bother having the mass in the Church, lets just have a nice ‘service’ outside Marks & Spencers. And why limit the Eucharist to just Catholics, sure doesn’t Jesus love everyone?” Sounds good. I think you may be on to something.

  38. Martin

    Fr Joseph said, ”Married gay priests is not science fiction — many Dutch priests formed civil partnerships with a man — at least one Irish priest has done so.”

    Oh dear. Is there any Catholic who takes that man in any way seriously?

  39. Noirin, Co Clare

    Thanks Jo. In reading through all the comments I was most inspired by those who spoke of their own faith, their own struggles; rather than those who tried to tell others how they should/must feel/behave.

  40. Con Carroll

    Have we forgot the words of Nicaraguan poet, ex Sandanista minister Ernesto Cardenal, Ratzinger appointment as pope would do more harm to the institution. Isn’t it brilliant to see the ultra right wing having ago at each other. They are an insult and mockery to the Gospels of Jesus. Political solidarity with those who are political alienated:
    we should remember people like the women from Maryknoll, who were murdered in El Salvador. And Oscar Romero

    I as a survivor of child abuse met the delegation of visitors from the Vatican, Cardinal Sean O Malley, also with people from the delegation into religious congregations

    I also expressed my views to the Archbishop of Dublin. through email about the visitation. I said quite clearly: if the purpose of the delegation wasn’t one of solidarity with people who are alienated, they should be handed their passports. escorted to the airport and asked to leave.

    As I am writing this the thoughts of Hans Kung spring to my attention. They haven’t learned anything under fascism or Communism

    A close scrutinty has to be followed into political financial right wing Catholic groups: Opus Dei, Legionaries of Christ, Communione Liberacione.

  41. Gavin Crowley

    Like Jo and others here I have traveled a winding path to get this far. I feel like a liberal, and when my emotions got the better of me when Enda Kenny made his impassioned, if flawed, speech I searched as widely as I could for another way to God than through this … (I’m lost for words)… church.

    But I cool down. I sense that we have left behind the Age of Reason, and are now in the Age of Emotion. I searched inside myself and found my reasons for a search for another way to be based on self=serving emotions. I was not impressed by the alternatives. I find myself logically stuck with the Latin Church within the Catholic Church.

    Yes there are accidents of birth involved. But I am willing to impose my reason on my feelings. While I feel ‘liberal’ that is only by accident of birth too. When I delve with my mind I am ‘conservative’. I have broken free of my roots to get here. Don’t use the that I would believe in the goodness of slavery but for an accident of birth without examining your own inheritance from this fleeting and passing present.

    Tradition gives the dead a vote. They too had struggles, and brains. We in the present are not specially endowed with wisdom.

    A time must come if you are ‘liberal’ in inclination, inclined to dissent from core, central teachings, that you must make an effort to use your reason to understand, and accept, dispite misgivings or admit that you are not a ‘liberal’ catholic, you just are not a catholic.

    I’m not telling you what to do, I’m telling you what I had to do. And it had great benefits – I tried on the clothes and in time they fitted. In time I saw coherence, beauty, truth in places where I only ever previously saw corruption and abuse. And of course my feelings changed.

    I don’t dissent from anything in faith and morals. I do question the judgement and wisdom of many organisational decisions.

  42. Joe O'Leary

    “A time must come if you are ‘liberal’ in inclination, inclined to dissent from core, central teachings,”. Most liberal Catholics are DEFENDING core central teachings from abusive travesty.

  43. Brendan Cafferty

    Nice to read article by Fr Kevin Hegarty. It is sad that good priests like Tony Flannery and others , including Kevin himself should have been isolated and sort of silenced. They are good priests and it is ironic that they are also casualties of the scourge of sexual abuse by priests. If this is all the Apostolic Visitation resulted in, and a strengthening of regulation like training seminarians in isolation, then it is too bad. Sad thing is that so many ordinary Catholics who might otherwise be appalled do not really care whats going on.

  44. Bill

    As an atheist, I thank the good catholics who are rebelious against the Vatican. I will keep in mind that most catholics would have dealt with people like Father Marcial Maciel not in the same way as the Vatican did.

  45. Frank Graham

    Sean(Derry)
    if I’m not mistaken I don’t think that the Church any longer holds as Dogma that ‘outside the Church there is no salvation.’How can we arrogantly presume to limit Christ’s saving grace to the visible structures of an institution? Did Jesus in the Gospels limit his saving actions only to a select few who, in his view, had the right credentials? Can we limit the saving grace of The Holy Spirit? Jesus mentions the word ‘Church’only two or three times in the Gospels whereas he talks of the ‘Kingdom of God’ numerous times– and the Church is not identical with the Kingdom of God but only a sign pointing to it. If God established the Roman Catholic Church here on earth, as you say, then is God a Roman Catholic? Are we in danger of making God in our own image and likeness? So much for God as being ultimately mystery!

  46. Sean (Derry)

    Frank Graham,
    Dogma can not change (otherwise it could not be a dogma), it is a revealed truth. Therefore, ‘no salvation outside the church’ can never equal ‘there is salvation outside the church’.
    CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH;

    “Outside the Church there is no salvation”

    846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers?335 Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:
    Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.336

    If you do not accept this fact Frank, then your argument is not with me but is with Our Lord.

  47. Frank

    I came across this thread just today. Jo – you are a good man and a wonderful priest I am sure.

    As a lay catholic Irishman living now in Scotland I stopped attending mass some 18 months ago. I have been for family occasions in Ireland. It is an INCREDIBLY sterile environment.

    I did two things over the last few months which have refocused me.

    One was to read Diarmaid MacCulloch’s excellent History of Christianity. It is clear really that the concept of there being one true catholic church is a delusion. The bishop of Rome became a focus only after the fall of the empire. There are many valid expressions of the christian tradition, some in the East being of longer pedigree than the one we were all brought up in.

    My second, and transforming, experience was to take the big step of attending a liberal Anglican Catholic church. Easier to do in Scotland than Ireland but amazing! Believe me the essential elements are the same and I have never seen the Eucharist received with such joy and reverence! Of course it is nonsense to say “Outside the (Roman) Church there is no salvation”. We should develop a broader tolerance of the many ways forward.

  48. Sean (Derry)

    Frank,
    “Outside the Church there is no salvation” (extra ecclesiam nulla salus) is a doctrine of the Catholic Faith that was taught By Jesus Christ to His Apostles, preached by the Fathers, defined by popes and councils and piously believed by the faithful in every age of the Church. Here is how the Popes defined it:

    ◦“There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved.” (Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, 1215.)
    ◦“We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” (Pope Boniface VIII, the Bull Unam Sanctam, 1302.)
    ◦“The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.” (Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441.)
    But man, following the example of his natural father, Adam, often disobeys the authority of God. The fact that the doctrine had to be thrice defined itself proves the Church’s paternal solicitude in correcting her erring children who fall into indifferentism

  49. Albertha

    Great post however I was wanting to know if you could write a litte more on this topic?
    I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Bless you!