09May A ‘Gaudium et Spes’ priest reflects, on his Golden Jubilee

We are the Gaudium et Spes priests.

We went into the seminary at the highest rate in living memory. We were ordained between 1955 and 1975 – in double the numbers our parishes required. Most of us were from the Silent Generation with a few years of Baby Boomers at the end. We took Vatican II to heart.
We changed from being priests called and consecrated by God to being presbyters called and ordained by the Church – the People of God. Ecumenism became a normal way of thinking for us. Prepared for the challenge by Cardijn’s apostolate of like to like, we were successful at educating a newly vital and active laity. We worked with the people rather than for them. We realised that clericalism was an evil, not a good, and discarded it with its style and culture. We ran highly successful and active parishes. Though ageing now, many of us are still on the job. Our presbyteral and pastoral lives have been a source of that unusual experience – joy.
But not without grief. We have experienced the awakening 60s, the exciting 70s, the suspicious 80s, the depressing 90s and the imploding 00s. During the 1980s we became aware that a lot was going wrong. Ordinations suddenly dropped after 1975. We started to lose parishioners – first from Mass then from affiliation. Both of these changes had mixed social causes.
Worse! Discordant decisions were coming down from the pope. Priestly celibacy, despite being highly contentious, was reasserted by Paul VI in 1967 without discussion. In 1968 Humanae Vitae was a shocking disappointment. Most of us never accepted it. Paul VI began appointing bishops opposed to the council’s ethos. This was most notable in Holland which had become a trailblazer in implementing the council. Paul killed that initiative and we are all the worse off for that. The whole trend was demoralizing.
Then came John Paul II. Charismatic in front of the TV camera; brilliant at languages; but – out of touch in scripture and limited in theology, a bad listener and rock solid is his self-assessment as God’s chosen man of destiny. His whole life had been spent in the persecuted church of Poland with its fortress church mentality frozen in time.
The open dialogue of the Church with the new ideas and values arising out of new knowledge in scriptural criticism, theology, psychology, sociology, anthropology stopped. New scientific discoveries in genetics were treated with suspicion and their application usually condemned. Sexual mores were promoted to the top shelf of his panorama of sin – a bit of an obsession with him.
Power corrupts. The history of the papacy shows this pre-eminently. Unchecked potentates believe their own propaganda. Taken to the extreme, they claim infallibility. Pius IX bullied Vatican I into institutionalizing such a claim. Since then creeping infallibility has resulted in the pope and his theologically limited curia stealing the term “magisterium” from its real owners – the college of professional theologians. How can you conscientiously give assent of mind and heart to policies formed without theological debate, consultation, transparency or accountability? In contemporary government and business this would be judged unethical.
John Paul’s lust for power showed very early and was taken to monumental proportions. Accountable to nobody, John Paul moved against any opinion other than his own and removed many exponents of alternative opinions from teaching and publishing. His most powerful enforcer was the Ratzinger-led Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). Other Roman dicasteries joined the campaign.
The CDF is the current euphemism for the Inquisition. True to its mediaeval roots, it assumes the pope to be entitled to enforce his views. It conducts its delations and proceedings in secret. In today’s secular world this is a violation of human rights.
Theological censorship justifies itself as the quest for the truth and poses as truth’s champion. In fact it is the enemy of the discovery of truth because discussion is forestalled. The contemporary secular world understands this and wisely enshrines freedom of speech and debate as a central value. The Church no less than any other enterprise is at least the poorer and at worst prone to error when it rejects this value.
All of us are abused by this process. The priest at the coal face is not consulted, yet is contemptuously expected to defend policies he and his people do not believe. John Paul II also enforced much of his own devotional life on the church at large. Despite Vatican II he effectively stopped the third rite of Penance, reversed a burgeoning dynamic theology of Eucharist by reverting to and re-emphasising devotion to the static Real Presence, reinforced a distorted devotion to Mary based on fundamentalist theology and introduced peculiar devotions such as Sr. Faustina’s Divine Mercy Devotion which undercuts Easter – the climax of our liturgical year. A more grievous abuse of power by John Paul II was his appointment of bishops.
Appointees were to be clerical, compliant and in total agreement with his personal opinions. This has emasculated the leadership of the Church. The episcopal ranks are now low on creativity, leadership, education and even intelligence. Many are from the ranks of Opus Dei – reactionary, authoritarian and decidedly not creative. Many, often at the top of the hierarchical tree, are embarrassingly ignorant of any recent learning in scripture, theology and scientific disciplines. Many are classic company boys. Some of the more intelligent and better educated seem to have sold their souls for advancement. Can they really believe the line they channel? Ecclesiastical politics have trumped integrity. And when these men are appointed as the leaders of priests without any consultation they become a standing act of contempt.
Worse still, this happened over a period when the priesthood held its biggest proportion of intelligent, educated and competent leaders. It was those very qualities which blackballed them for appointment under the blinkered but powerful regime. Our best chance has been missed. [Deo gratias!] Today the ranks of the priesthood are depleted due to low recruitment over the last forty years [and who might be to blame for that?]. The pool from which future bishops must be chosen is very shallow.
A newly critical laity questions policy but receives no answers. Why can’t women be leaders in the Church? Why do priests have to be celibate? What is wrong with contraception? Why alienate remarried divorcees? Why this salacious preoccupation with sexual mores? Why are scientific advances always suspected of being bad? Why can’t we recognise the reality of homosexual orientation – and the social consequences of that recognition? Have we learnt nothing from the Galileo case – or the treatment of Teilhard de Chardin? Can’t we escape the Syllabus of Errors mentality?
Benedict XVI has continued the reversal of Vatican II. He is imposing a new English translation of the Sacramentary on a resisting English speaking constituency. This may very well backfire because many priests are not going to implement it. Benedict has received back bishops from the schismatic Society of St Pius X. He has encouraged the Tridentine Mass in Latin. He has reintroduced kneeling for communion on the tongue at his public Masses – all deliberate key pointers to regression from the spirit of Vatican II. To the priests who embraced Vatican II they are iconic insults.
Then he has the nerve to decree[d] a Year for Priests in 2009 with St John Vianney as patron. Like Fr. Donald Cozzens, many felt they were being played. The celebration of the importance of priests in the church is belied by the contempt with which they are treated. How can Rome call priests to repentance when it is so recalcitrant; so slow to admit any failing of its own? How can they be serious in stressing the importance of the priest as confessor when it is clear that confession has all but vanished from the life of the Church? How can they urge Holy Hours and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament when most priests have moved on from that static theology of Eucharist to a dynamic one – with Vatican II leading the way? How can they urge priests to more intense prayer when they show no evidence of a change of heart or attitude – the genuine indicator that prayer is working?
We took as normal the world and the church into which we were ordained. In reality, the religious affiliation of the period was abnormally high. Mass and sacramental participation and priestly vocations were at a high water mark. The reversal which began in the late 60s was always going to happen. But with Vatican II we had the tools to handle the new situation. A large group of the priests were ready to meet the challenge. They did not get the chance. The orders from above were to withdraw to the fortress and sing the old song. Instead of embracing the new they lost the opportunity and left us high and dry – and disappointed.
In the western world priests still always rate highly in job satisfaction surveys. They generally enjoy their job and do it well. That is because they are happy in their own patch. But they feel betrayed by the pope and the bishops. If you ask them what they think about the powers up top and where the official show is going you get a very different answer.

Reprinted from The Swag, the Magazine of the National Council of Priests of Australia
(December 2010). Read the original here

35 Responses

  1. mjt

    An exemplary analysis! And all this being true, how sad our Church is, what a sad state it`s in. How forlorn so many are, both priests and laity, lacking leadership where we have a right to expect it.

  2. Darlene Starrs

    Now that’s a homily! Zizzling…This was written almost 2.5 years ago, clearly, before Pope Francis! Today, I was greatly disappointed with the all to familiar attitude of the papal office and the curia, that they, and only they, are privy to what Christ wants of the Church, and that our response as women, as the laity, as the priests, and so on…is unquestioning obedience. The most outstanding point for me from this entry….and which applies obviously with the new papacy, is that the CDF…is violating human rights. So, our work, as “Holy and Venerable” dissidents, no matter, our relationship to the Church, is to be the “prophetic” voice that says, “No, to abuse” in all its forms and no matter where we might encounter it……

  3. Michael Paul Burns

    Wow!
    That says so much that many surely feel, but can’t, or daren’t, articulate. I was ordained slap bang in the middle of those years, but it all drove me to a breakdown in 1978. I bailed out, and now am a happily married laicised priest, still loving the Church, mourning for her and hoping for better times; I hope and pray that Francis will start the process.

  4. John

    It seems to me that priests and church members who have a conviction should proclaim it and act upon it without waiting for “permission” from bishop or other church authorities, and that the ACP should be geared to support such people, with a place (places?) to live in and minister from if necessary. Can the authorities sack them all? It would appear that those such as Pat Buckley and the members of the Society of St Pius X11 who have set out to paddle their own canoe have not been left without a roof over their head. Quite the contrary! They seem to be thriving.

  5. Noel Campbell

    Difficult to argue with the generality of Fr. Eric’s article. However I do believe that priests themselves in many instances resisted the changes brought about by Vatican 2. When ‘at the coal face’ change can be introduced in a gentle way so as not to end up with the baby disappearing with the bath water,which is what happened unfortunately all over the Church.Too many quick changes, too many overly eager freedom seekers and a confused laity who are now in the main, older and have lost the will to change.
    May I respectfully suggest that all of you wannabe chiefs stand aside and let the Holy Spirit do the work . It looks like He has already started with Pope Francis.

  6. Chris (England)

    I have been impressed by articles written by Eric Hodgens for some time now, particularly his emphasis on the need for a rearticulation and recontextualisation of dogma. Readers may be intrested in reading some of his thoughts – try this link http://www.catholicview.typepad.com/

  7. Padraig McCarthy

    When I sent in the above, I also added a link to a response to the article by Cardinal George Pell; this seems to have disappeared.
    The link is
    http://www.sanctepater.com/2011/04/some-gaudium-and-no-spes-george.html.
    It seems to me that there is some little substance to the Cardinal’s reply, but that most of it succeeds in missing the point.
    Perhaps some visitors might take a look.

  8. Bob Hayes

    Darlene (no. 2): ‘The most outstanding point for me from this entry….and which applies obviously with the new papacy, is that the CDF…is violating human rights’. Darlene, I know you are only echoing Fr Eric Hodgens, but can we please put a brake on the melodramatic hyperbole and feigned victimhood?
    .
    If the CDF was – as is absurdly claimed – in the business of ‘violating human rights’ why are Eric Hodgens, Tony Flannery et al. still out and about? At the very least they would have been shipped-off to an isolated monastery, laicised or excommunicated?
    .
    All over the planet human rights are being violated: women raped as a weapon of war; children conscripted to civil war armies; prisoners tortured; the bombing of civilians – termed ‘collateral damage'; female genital mutilation, the wholesale slaughter of the unborn, adulterers and homosexual men being executed, slave-labour working conditions such as at Dhaka. These are REAL violations of human rights.
    .
    To claim that a few articulate, media-savvy priests – who have opted-out of their vows of obedience – are having their human rights violated is deeply insulting to the millions of victims of REAL human rights violations.

  9. Bob Hayes

    Padraig (no. 7), thanks for re-submitting the link. I wondered where it had gone! Having looked at both Fr Hodgens’ and George Cardinal Pell’s response, what comes across is that Fr Hodgens is a formidable and able critic. But that is as far as it goes. He is rather like a good theatre critic: adept with the barbed comments and hyperbole, but unable to write a play himself.

  10. Philomena B.

    Despair not all who enter here.

    “10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

    11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.”

    I don’t agree with all he says. Why all these wonderful ‘theologians’. Whatever happened that wisdom would not be given to the learned but come from the mouths of babes.

    Speaking of babes, I agree with the poster speaks about baby and bathwater.

    If you showed the love of Christ to anyone today, or yourself, then the Church is anything but dead or dying out.

  11. ger gleeson

    A truly superb analysis. This is the state of the church as reported, over the last 50years. I worry. Will there be another 50 for our church?

  12. Darlene Starrs

    Thank you Padraig for supplying the link to Cardinal Pell’s response. The response “feels” like an apologetic. The tone is “closed”, “cold”, “rigid”, and “sarcastic”. All the way through, I wondered, what difference, it truly would have made to the Church and its development, if women, had been integral to the Church’s structures, ministry and governance. Would we have been reading something like George Pell’s letter, if women, were truly equal partners in ministry and governance? I don’t know, and I guess, we never will……

  13. Darlene Starrs

    It would be impolite not to acknowledge your point to me Bob.
    Yes, Human Rights are violated everywhere in the world in every sphere of life. One life isn’t more important than another, and so, all violation of human rights is a travesty. I probably prefer to use the term human dignity…….I live by the words, “The Lord Hears the Cry of the Poor”, and I find myself singing Father John Foley’s S.J. song, frequently….That is my prayer..

  14. Darlene Starrs

    Who would have thought that after 25 years or so of formally studying any of Hans Kung’s theology, I would be greatful that he is alive and well at 85 years of age and still writing. He has an article with “The Tablet” entitled “Don’t Turn Spring Into Winter”.
    What he says in that article completely supports the above homily, given 2 and a half years ago. The following is an excerpt:
    our expectations of reform are dashed? The time is past when Pope and bishops could rely on the obedience of the faithful. A certain mysticism of obedience was also introduced by the eleventh-century Gregorian Reform: obeying God means obeying the Church and that means obeying the Pope and vice versa. Since that time, it has been drummed into Catholics that the obedience of all Christians to the Pope is a cardinal virtue; commanding and enforcing obedience by whatever means has become the Roman Style. But the medieval equation of “obedience to God = to the Church = to the Pope” patently contradicts the word of Peter and the other apostles before the High Council of Jerusalem: “man must obey God rather than any human authority.”
    We should then in no way fall into resigned acceptance. Instead, faced with a lack of impulse towards reform from the hierarchy, we must take the offensive, pressing for reform from the bottom up. If Pope Francis tackles reform, he will find he has the wide approval of people far beyond the Catholic Church. However, if he allows things to continue as they are, without clearing the log-jam of reforms now in progress such as that of the L.C.W.R., then the call of “Time for outrage” will ring out…..etc…to the end.

    Hans Kung begins by telling us of the very, very, positive sign, Pope Francis is….but warns, that, Spring could turn to winter….Hans Kung also gives a well done comparison between Pope Francis and St. Francis, in that, the Church, for both of these men was in need of repair.

  15. mjt

    Actually Bob, when you listed your atrocities @ 8 above, maybe you should have included child violation, rape and molestation by clergy, and then, perhaps even worse because of who was involved, some of the higher clergy who plotted to prevent justice being done, all the while expertly assuming faces of piety in public.
    And as it might be thought important in a Church supposedly so attuned to things spiritual, what about the continuing spiritual violence done to its people by a church which denies them the living culture of worship envisaged at Vatican 2?
    As for your jocular dismissal of Fr. Hodgens, as a priest he can hardly be held up to ridicule for not being able to “write the play” in your metaphor, when he, like many others, has been disempowered by the powers that be in the Church. Indeed, all he can do is what the critic does – that is to watch, think, and then to tell it as it is. That`s more than is tolerated of most of us anyway in church: “Sit, listen, kneel and stand when we say, and pay when we ask”.

  16. Lloyd Allan MacPherson

    MJT (@15), thank you. I don’t think anyone could have said it better. As a person who lives with those memories everyday, I long for the day when celibacy is lifted in the Roman Catholic Church. Where it concerns the inclusion of women, this should be first to change. Church governance is and always has been the responsibility of Catholic Christendom. A totalitarian state will not self-transform under pressure from its underlings because its laws are designed to serve its own continuation. We can see this in the Canons. One sentence tells us that by baptism we are equal; in the next, it is only by the prestige we possess that we carry the ability to provide feedback. When governance shows its true form for the world to see due to a let’s call it “period of transparency”, we see the urgency of these changes. This is not a 100 year plan, or a 50 year plan or a 10 year plan – this has to be thought of as a limited window. This veil dropping is a gift for those fighting for the reform. We have to take it to them while their defence is down and our passion is soaring. There may not be another time to do it in our lifetime. On a side note, it’s nice to see that Bob is still defining REAL human rights violations on this website (@8). Bob, I think we all understand the different degrees of violence used to contain people in unnatural positions/situations. This protest outside of Canon Law is not defiance to Canon Law. It’s an obedience to Natural Law first and foremost and whether or not it is accepted will definitely tell us if the State is totalitarian or not. The more the State denies the rigours of this reform, the more it acts un-godlike.
    **
    “We may brave human laws but we cannot resist natural ones.”

  17. Paddy Ferry

    Very well said, mjt. And many thanks to Pádraig for giving us access to Fr. Eric’ s excellent reflection on the how the great possibilites and potential that existed after the Council were wasted.
    Pádraig, when I was at home at Easter, I went into Veritas in Letterkenny to get some resourses to help my daughter Jemma and her fiance, Paul, prepare for their wedding on August 10th.
    I discovered your excellent book, “A Wedding of your Own”.
    So, thank you for that as well. Indeed, thanks for all the great contributions you have made to this ACP site. I had never heard, for example, of “Vehementer Nos”, until you brought it to my attention some time ago. You are one of the great educators on this site. The ACP has truly been a great blessing for us all.

  18. Bob Hayes

    You are absolutely correct in this observation mjt: ‘Actually Bob, when you listed your atrocities @ 8 above, maybe you should have included child violation, rape and molestation by clergy, and then, perhaps even worse because of who was involved, some of the higher clergy who plotted to prevent justice being done, all the while expertly assuming faces of piety in public.’ As well as the ‘higher clergy’ who ‘prevent[ed] justice’ while ‘assuming faces of piety in public’ we must not forget the laity – parishioners, extraordinary ministers, choir members, alter servers, housekeepers, cleaners, teachers, sports club members, councillors, TDs, gardaí and many others – who kept schtum while all this wickedness was taking place. The Jimmy Saville revelations in Britain have shown that it is not just hierarchies that look the other way when wickedness is perpetrated. There is no justification for the hierarchy’s failings, but neither is there any excuse for lay amnesia.
    .
    As for poor, ‘disempowered’ Fr Hodgens, he gives regular media interviews, publishes and maintains a website – http://catholicview.typepad.com/catholic_view/

    Irish contributors to the ACP website may wish to comment on Fr Hodgens’ question, ‘Who would want to live in a theocracy whether it be Islamic such as Iran and Saudi Arabia or Catholic as in medieval Spain or even Ireland of the 1940s?’

  19. Stephen Edward

    The Church doesn’t, to my knowledge, expect priests to defend things in which they do not believe. They are merely expected to subscribe to the teachings contained in the Catechism and leave if they can’t do so. What’s the problem? Accept the Church’s teaching authority or go. Easy.

  20. Bob Hayes

    Stephen (no. 19), you have hit the nail on the head.
    .
    All the ‘reforms’ being called for here have already happened somewhere in Christendom. Women priests and married priests endorsed by Anglicans and others, same-sex unions blessed by Unitarians, artificial contraception embraced by Anglicans (way back in 1930) and endorsed by other ecclesial groups, divorce and remarriage endorsed by various ecclesial groups, abortion endorsed by assorted ecclesial groups, the Roman Pontiff’s authority rejected several centuries ago by all the protestant groups.
    .
    Many of these groups also offer varying degrees of DIY liturgy. So if ‘Sisters and brothers, let’s share a baguette and drink a glass of burgundy to say thanks for Jesus being a fine, anti-establishment role-model’ appeals to you more than the ‘fuddy-duddy old Mass’, you have plenty of options from which to choose.

  21. Kathy

    Great reflection on lived reality.

  22. Lloyd Allan MacPherson

    Stephen (19) and Bob (20) – the only thing I can tell you is that the will of God is not to be tested but this doesn’t mean that we simply conform to the ways of the world? In my experience, it is easier but where is the possibility of transformation when needed? Are you saying that the wordly church has always been beyond transformation? So what we see now always has been and always will be. If I understand you correctly, you are telling us that the will of the Roman Pontiff has and always will be the will of God. To deny a transformation is an act against God. To refer to the Pope as a despot is an insult to him and your religion. Stephen has definitely hit a nail on the head with his thinking which harkens back to 1st century Roman thought.

  23. mjt

    Bob, by “disempowered” I meant that his vision of church, one shared by many, I think, is not the one favoured by the powers that be.
    And in relation to human rights, I had wanted to point out that your list did not mention the fact that certain high-ranking clergymen have been guilty of at the very least, being obstacles to justice. I was not trying to say argue that anyone, in or out of the church, is free of sin. And you are quite right to remind us that the vast proportion of sex abuse cases are not perpetrated by clergymen. Mind you, lamentable though it is that the laity – humanity – should be sinners, but is it not even worse in an ordained minister of the church? “Lilies that fester..”?

  24. Paddy Ferry

    Stephen,@19 I would like to recommend Fr. Donald Cozzens new book to you ” Notes from the Underworld — The Spiritual Journal of a Secular Priest” published by Orbis Books http://www.orbisbooks.com

  25. Willie Herlihy

    I was born into a Catholic Theocracy in 1940s Ireland.
    I was not encouraged to read the Holy Bible, as all I needed to know about the Catholic Church, was contained in the Catechism and the Precepts of the Church.
    I was also taught that the Catholic Church, was the one true Church and nobody who was not a member of that Church could go to Heaven.
    Well Stephen (@19) and Bob (@20), I believed that load of rubbish then: that had nothing to do with the loving Jesus the above theocracy claimed to represent.

    I am still a practicing Catholic. I do not consider the Holy Mass to be “fuddy-duddy” and I do not wish to choose any other options.

    Correct me if I am wrong, are you espousing blind obedience to the dictates of a completely corrupt Roman Curia? An organization if not reformed, will keep the Church back in the 19th Century.
    Prior to the election of Pope Francis, I was pessimistic about the future of the Church.
    I thought all the good work achieved by Pope John the XXIII, had been completely undone by his successors.
    Now I am no longer so pessimistic. I close with a quote from the hero of my youth the great Pope John the XXIII.
    Consult not your fears, but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but, with what it is still possible for you to do.

  26. ger gleeson

    Willie Herlihy @25 above, you are correct in every word you have written. That said, fundamentalists will simply not accept the points you are making. They believe that the institutional church has never been wrong on any aspect of church governance. Pay, pray and obey, is what is expected of each of us. Thank God, heretics are not burnt at the stake in modern times. If that was still the order of the day, you , I, and the vast majority of those who contribute to this site, would be swiftly dealt with. I also believe that a few who do contribute, would feel privileged to light the pyre.

  27. Darlene Starrs

    I didn’t know that quote from John the XXIII, Willie…Thank you so, very much for providing it…as it was/is…soothing ointment for my soul…this day…

  28. Willie Herlihy

    Ger@26 I agree completely with your analysis, sadly the organisation in Rome is top heavy with fundamentalists.
    Darlene @27 you are very welcome.
    Hopefully, more of what that great Pope stood for will be implemented by our new Pope.

  29. Richard O'Donnell

    I think Bob (20) is a little confused here. Did it ever occur to him that perhaps he, and those others in the Roman Catholic Church (Irish branch) who think like him, might be in the minority in this Church? This would seem to me to be a reasonable inference from the ACP survey on contemporary Irish Catholic attitudes.

    If this is so, then why should the majority leave? Or does Bob suggest that the Holy Spirit whispers only to the few? High priests come to mind! How sad!

  30. Bob Hayes

    Would-be ‘reformers’ frequently cite the Second Vatican Council as some sort of reference point for their views – while completely disregarding the decisions of the Council! Vatican II certainly called for greater participation of the laity, with a view to moving away from the sort of nonsense that Willie Herlihy (no. 25) rightly condemns. That is most welcome.
    .
    Despite what ‘reformers’ and John XXIII groupies are fond of claiming, Vatican II was not about ‘democratising’ the Church. In fact, key documents of Vatican II reinforce and restate the hierarchical nature of the Church. Take Dei Verbum (n.10) as an example:
    The office of interpreting the word of God, whether Scriptural or Traditional, has been entrusted exclusively to the living voice of the Church’s magisterium, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.
    Whatever you might hope Richard (no. 29), Vatican II made it abundantly clear that Church is not governed on majoritarian principles.
    .
    I would not wish anyone to leave the Church – far from it in fact. I was merely pointing out that what so many ‘reformers’ seem to want already exists in various strands of Christianity. It seems strange that people who appear to be deeply unhappy with so much of the Church – both now and throughout much of its history – should wish to cling on.
    .
    To make a secular comparison, it is rather as if people whose political outlook has always been aligned to Sinn Féin had chosen to spend a lifetime as members of Fine Gael, while endlessly lamenting that the party would not adopt SF policies!

  31. Richard O'Donnell

    I am sure Bob (30) means well and is indeed quite articulate. But I fail to see his logic in commenting on comments which were never made. I never mentioned Vatican II in my comment (29). I merely wondered at the inability or refusal of the decision makers in the Roman Catholic Church to listen to the Spirit as she speaks through the words and voices of the majority of her members in Ireland. Indeed, the majority get it wrong at times too. They got it wrong at the crucifixion. But that hardly means that the Spirit only imparts her thoughts to her favoured few, none of whom are women.

    Bob quotes Dei Verbum (n.10) correctly, but, sadly, interprets it incorrectly. We do not need Vatican II to tell us that “the Church is not governed on majoritarian principles” (30). But it does not exclude the Spirit from wanting this despite what Bob may wish for.

    But I do live in hope. Who, for example, even among “the reformers” at Vatican II would have foreseen a pope wash the feet of a Muslim woman?

    It seems to me that many, who are unhappy with the Church, are not content to “cling on” and lament as Bob (30) seems to think. They are trying to get the decision makers in the Church to listen to the voice of the Spirit as heard by the majority. Would it be possible that the Spirit is growing weary of trying to get the magisterium to listen to her, when she speaks directly to it and is now speaking more loudly through what used to be the silent majority?

    Then again, Bob might be half right. The apostles too were fairly silent between the resurrection and the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost. Then these same apostles, post Pentecost, established a new Church.

  32. mjt

    Bob`s reference@30:”The office of interpreting the word of God, whether Scriptural or Traditional, has been entrusted exclusively to the living voice of the Church’s magisterium” rather begs the question, “Whose magisterium?” that is, who “owns” it?
    Isn`t there a requirement that the voice of the lay faithful, The People of God as we like to be known, is important in it? Or do you think, after all these decades have passed, that it`s the sole property of the Roman Curia?

  33. John

    The TV3 program of 21 May 2013 on Vatican and bishop maladministration said it all. Majesterium? That’s a fine word. How about cronyism?

  34. John

    Cardinal Pell is now apologising – at last – for the failures of the hierarchy.

  35. mjt

    Does this refer to his supervision of the execrable translation?