26Jul Passing of abortion Bill shows faulty moral theology in Irish Church

The passing of the abortion Bill in the Dáil, it was said, marked the end of the old cosy church-State relations. But is this true? One of the main reasons, it seems, why many senior priests and bishops were personally silent on the Bill is the fact that many clerics and their families have long histories of being supporters of Fine Gael. Another reason for the lukewarm support of the bishops’ position was theological in nature.

The kind of fundamental moral theology taught in seminaries in recent decades is one that, contrary to church teaching, denies there are any moral actions, even abortion, that are intrinsically wrong. The moral evaluation of an action depends rather on motive and circumstance. Such a theology also distinguishes between the moral and legal/political spheres, allowing Catholic politicians to put politics above their “private” moral convictions. This theology, though widespread, is radically at variance with church teaching.

The apparent “neutral” stance on the Bill taken by the leadership of the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) illustrates the moral quagmire caused by this kind of fundamental moral theology. The ACP leadership refused to take a formal position. One member, Fr PJ Madden, stated his personal belief that “there is no need for legislation on abortion”. Two other leadership members, Fr Tony Flannery and Fr Brendan Hoban, when asked, would not state their positions. But the ACP website did publish an article by Margaret Lee in which she wrote: “I believe that a woman is entitled to choose termination when the foetus has no chance of surviving outside the womb.” In other words, abortion is in principle allowed in certain circumstances.

This kind of moral theology undermines conscience, reducing morality to a “personal belief”, a private conviction. Conscience is regarded as a subjective conviction, rather than something objective, namely our capacity to recognise what we ought to do, especially when we are not inclined to do so.

Jerry Buttimer TD, chairman of the Oireachtas committee on the Bill, played a central role in getting the Bill passed. As a seminarian at Maynooth, he was exposed to the kind of fundamental moral theology that denies moral absolutes, such as direct abortion, and places politics superior to (supposedly private) moral convictions.

Whatever the rationalisations used, the net effect of all this was the attempt by the Taoiseach, Minister for Health and chief whip to put pressure on anti-abortion colleagues to vote for legislation they knew to be wrong. Legislators, in a word, were forced to act against their conscience. That itself is gravely immoral.

The neutering of the legislature by the executive has been a feature of Irish democracy for many years, but the attempted suppression of parliamentary dissent on a matter of fundamental moral significance marks a new low.

One senior party figure offered it as his view “that Enda Kenny showed personal courage and political skill”. I see a lot of evidence of political manipulation but . . . of personal courage?

The Taoiseach had nothing to lose. His Government had not only a huge majority, supported by Labour (the real motivating force behind the Bill), but there was no concerted opposition from any other political party. Fine Gael TDs knew that the price for following their conscience would be expulsion from their party.

The imposition of the whip in such a debate on life and death crushes the small voice of conscience more effectively than any torture chamber. The fact that five TDs defied the whip is what gives cause for hope that our present greatly enfeebled legislature might, one day, mature into a real democratic parliament.

It is well to remember that, in the aftermath of totalitarianism, the German people in 1949 wrote the primacy of the conscience of elected representatives into their constitution. Those representatives are expressly instructed that they are not bound by orders or instructions; they are answerable only to their conscience. Conscience is the last bulwark against totalitarianism.

It is not without significance that the Government parties want to get rid of the Upper House, the only chamber they cannot completely control. This week Senators were given an opportunity to demonstrate to the nation their limited but indispensible role in Irish democracy – provided they are true to their conscience.


35 Responses

  1. Soline Humbert

    “The imposition of the whip in such a debate on life and death crushes the small voice of conscience more effectively than any torture chamber”. I wonder whether those who have endured torture see it that way?

  2. Sean O'Conaill

    “Conscience is regarded as a subjective conviction, rather than something objective, namely our capacity to recognise what we ought to do, especially when we are not inclined to do so.”
    This is totally opaque to me. Surely ‘our capacity to recognise what we ought to do’ can only be determined subjectively? Aren’t we all subjective beings? Isn’t that what it is to be human? I simply cannot see how anyone other than God can claim objectivity. I see in Vincent Twomey’s claim to it the same vanity of magisterium that has alienated so many in Ireland from the church. It amounts to saying ‘my conscience sees more clearly than your conscience, so your conscience must submit to mine’. A conscience that simply submits to the claimed greater objectivity of another is an abdicated conscience, and therefore no conscience at all.
    This is not to say that the pro-life cause is mistaken. The essential question is: how to persuade. To claim superhuman objectivity is to vitiate the task of persuasion. To me it comes across as a sign of panic rather than conviction.
    The conscientious objectors to the legislation are far more persuasive. This issue will run and run – and meanwhile around 4,000 Irish women annually will not be persuaded by a campaign that seems to focus everything on closing a stable door that isn’t the only one in the stable.

  3. Pól Ó Duibhir

    Vincent Twomey is making a number of points in his article.
    (i) Connie Lucey’s, pre Vatican II, teaching on the informed conscience is correct. Your conscience is an objective matter determined by the Church. If you do not agree with the Church then your conscience is not sufficiently informed and you are obliged not to follow it. This is a standard fallacy from Vincent Twomey which was exposed by Seán Fagan in one of his less silenced moments.
    (ii) Legislators should not be “forced” to vote against their conscience. This is a reasonable position but depends on how you interpret forced. Many in the past were “forced” to renounce their faith under torture. Those who did not were considered martyrs (assuming of course they died under the torture). Whether being expelled from a political party ranks with torture is a difficult question and one the legislator must decide for themselves.
    (iii) Abolishing the Seanad is a political power grab by the Executive. This is correct in my view, though neither chamber has distinguished itself in recent times, and both are in need of reform.
    (iv) Tony Flannery and his ilk are Fine Gaelers first and priests second. And this from a prime member of the cult of Benedict. Outrageous.

  4. Wanderer

    What if I recognise that I should do something I ought to do – which I might not be inclined to do through fear of having to listen to someone else’s conscience – such as listen to my own conscience rather than that someone else’s ?

    What is the point of having a conscience if not a place I can ultimately be with my God – without fear – in resolving an issue in my life that is between me and my God.

    People are driven to doing things they might not otherwise do in other circumstances – ideally, by fear. And adding more fear is the answer ?

    Not so sure about that at all. Though that is a purely subjective opinion.

    Love casts out fear.

  5. Nuala O'Driscoll

    This is another example (another being Humanae Vitae) of the ‘mangled, theological reasoning’ that is contributing to the ever widening gulf between the Church’s teaching on freedom of conscience and an educated thinking laity. Come and live in the real world Vincent where motive and circumstance are realities, and lead to the hard choices.

  6. Gene Carr

    The rage against the Church’s public Magisterium is a thinly disguised rage against the insistent promptings of conscience.

  7. ger gleeson

    “Come and live in the real world Vincent where motive and circumstance are realities, and lead to the hard choices”. For me a layperson, Nuala @5, you have said it all. You also Fr Vincent appear to take the ACP to task in relation to their apparent “neutrality” on the issue. Our church is a great democracy once everyone is singing from the hymn book which is dictated by Rome. I shudder to think of what may happen to even one ACP priest, who publicly supported the Government on this issue.
    In fairness to you Fr Vincent, you are clear in your opposition to the Bill. Once you continue to sing the tune as dictated by Rome, then you have nothing to worry about.

  8. Pól Ó Duibhir

    Just in case anyone wants to read Fr. Seán’s elegant exposé referred to above. It’s a gem.

  9. A young priest

    Congratulations Vincent a wonderful article. As a young priest I see hope still – thank you!

  10. Micheál

    It is quite extraordinary that Vincent Twomey fails to apply his own moral reasoning in this article. He asserts, without foundation, that ” One of the main reasons, it seems, why many senior priests and bishops were personally silent on the Bill is the fact that many clerics and their families have long histories of being supporters of Fine Gael”, without any supporting evidence.

    Equally his assertion about the teaching of moral thology in seminaries in recent years is without evidence.

    Perhaps he might care to elaborate on these central propositions and maybe, just maybe, somebody will take him seriously. If this is the last bastion of hope for the future of the church, God help us all.

  11. Nuala O'Driscoll

    Thanks Pol @8. At the expense of sounding tedious I wonder what part of this teaching Fr Vincent does not understand; ‘So strongly rooted is this principle of the primacy of conscience over both external act and external authority that Thomas Aquinas himself argued that “anyone upon whom the ecclesiastical authority, in ignorance of true facts, imposes a demand that offends against his/her clear conscience, should perish in excommunication rather than violate his/her conscience”. The ‘ecclesiastical authority’ can not know what is in the mind of a woman in a crises pregnancy so they do not have the true facts. On the issue of Humanae Vitae, I know more about intimate married relations than Pope Paul VI and the ‘ecclesiastical authority’. I know from experience that the rhythm method and Billings do not work, I will spare the details of why this is the case. The teaching in Humanae Vitae is not only flawed it is wrong. So I shall die in excommunication with a clear conscience.

  12. Pól Ó Duibhir

    Nuala @ 11
    “So I shall die in excommunication with a clear conscience.”
    What a beautiful sentence. I don’t know where to start. If you can understand it you know what is wrong with the Church. If you can’t you don’t.
    It’s just inviting itself to be put on a seminary exam paper, simply followed by the word “discuss”.
    I love it.

  13. Pól Ó Duibhir

    Gene Carr @ 6
    This is precisely the type of closed loop totalitarian thinking which has sustained the power of the Church over the centuries and got it into the mess it is now in.
    It is patronising in the extreme.
    While it may sometimes be true, that is not for the observer to determine.

  14. Josephine Kelly

    It worries me that ‘the young priest’ felt unable / unwilling to sign his comment here.
    So many of the younger clergy are so afraid to put any personal view or opinion into the public domain.
    Perhaps – dare I suggest- this reveals a weakness among those who train young seminarians today ?
    It certainly is in sharp contrast to the older clergy- who are not just courageous, but so well able to debate with openness, respect and clarity.

  15. Eddie Finnegan

    @Ger Gleeson#7: “Our church is a great democracy once everyone is singing from the same hymn book which is dictated by Rome. I shudder to think of what may happen to even one ACP priest, who publicly supported the Government on this issue.”
    Ger, when I suggested, in a comment on another thread a few days ago, that I found Vincent Twomey’s Opinion piece honest, and that an honest ACP response would be to reproduce it here for Leadership response and for response by others, I wasn’t really shuddering to think of what might happen to even one ACP priest who might publicly support Vincent Twomey. Now I find myself asking: “Is there an ACP hymn book, and whence did it derive its ‘nihil obstat’ and ‘imprimatur’? And is there a penalty for NOT singing from it?
    Fair dues to “A young priest”#9 (and I hope his parishioners pay him fair dues too). We may guess, perhaps wrongly, that he isn’t an ACP man. No one can blame him for sailing under a pseudonymous flag of convenience, since none of the 1,000 ACP members have as yet even appeared over the horizon. Josephine#14, I’d worry more about the 99% of ACP who take no part on this site than you seem to worry about one young priest courageous enough to say: “I’m a Twomeyist!” So what might prevent even a maverick independent-minded ACP priest from voicing support for the Twomey position? Were all 1,000 so schooled in Haring’s Law of Christ that they could never countenance even a Newman-Ratzinger distinction between ‘primacy of truth’ and ‘primacy of conscience’ sufficiently to allow them to whisper: “Enda, even the secularist heathens of Westminster and Berlin allow conscience votes – and they never claimed to be practising Catholics, never taught Catholic children, and never even saw the Reek from Westport on the last Sunday of July.”
    @Pól Ó Duibhir#8: We should all be reluctant to second-guess Fr Seán Fagan (or Benny the Bridgebuilder for that matter!), even in a pot-shot round of fire in yesteryear’s Irish Times Letters page between himself and Vincent Twomey – but why did he omit the top and tail of that Young Ratzinger paragraph of commentary on ‘Gaudium et Spes’ Art16 on Conscience? In that particular monograph it seems that Ratzinger was presenting Newman’s position as part of his characteristic scholarly commentary on the Council document ‘On the Church in the Modern World’. Ever since, or at least since he became CDF Prefect, every Seán, Seamus and Sorcha have been quoting it gleefully against his older self, even if they’ve never read another word he’s written. The truncated quote must have appeared on this site even more often than Old Gamaliel himself since September 2010.
    It is not that Ratzinger is contradicting Newman, of course, but surely the quote, including the Newman paraphrase, should be used in the way Ratzinger presented it:
    “For Newman,” he writes, “conscience represents the inner complement and limit of the Church principle. [then Ratzinger paraphrases – italics] Over the Pope as the expression of the binding claim of ecclesiastical authority, there still stands one’s own conscience, which must be obeyed before all else, even if necessary against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority. [end of Newman paraphrase]
    “This emphasis on the individual, whose conscience confronts him with a supreme and ultimate tribunal, and one which in the last resort is beyond the claim of external social groups, even of the official Church, also establishes a principle in opposition to increasing totalitarianism. [end of Seán Fagan quote, in Pól’s link above]
    Ratzinger’s coda or explanatory appendage, a ‘tail’ almost always omitted: “Genuine ecclesiastical obedience is distinguished from any totalitarian claim which cannot accept any ultimate obligation of this kind [i.e. of conscience] beyond the reach of its dominating will.”
    Don’t those final two sentences leave us wondering which is the best recent example of “increasing totalitarianism” or of a “totalitarian claim” brooking no obligation of conscience: Archbishop Eamon Martin’s coded Dundalk threat of excommunication of politicians, whatever their pleas of civic duty; or Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s multiple excommunication of Dáil and Seanad politicians, whatever their pleas of ultimate obligations of conscience ?
    It seems to me that in fairness to Vatican Council Fathers, John Henry Newman, Joseph Ratzinger and Vincent Twomey, we should all re-read Gaudium et Spes, Articles 16-17; Ratzinger’s commentary in Vorgrimler, Vol 5; Cardinal Ratzinger’s paper, Conscience and Truth, to the US bishops at Dallas Texas, Feb 1991, especially Section 2: ‘Newman and Socrates: Guides to Conscience’ http://www.ewtn.com/library/curia/ratzcons.htm ; and, if we don’t mind putting a bob or two into the SVD kitty, round off our reading with D.Vincent Twomey’s “Pope Benedict XVI: The Conscience of our Age” (Ignatius Press 2007) – which appeared some months before Fr Seán Fagan’s exchange of letters with Benedict’s greatest fan, Dec 2007.
    Just forget for an hour or two Francis’s coded pot-shots at Benedict, as he huddled with Brazilian bishops on Saturday and cavorted with his Copacabana fan club on Sunday:”we have forgotten the language of simplicity and imported an intellectualism foreign to our people.”
    A wee smidgin of intellectualism wouldn’t come amiss at times. You can’t make it all up on the hoof.

  16. Pól Ó Duibhir

    @Eddie #15

    Take your point on the complete quote, but the substance still stands.
    Clearly both Bishop Eamon and Taoiseach Enda need to further think their positions through. While there is no easy answer for anyone, these two well chosen examples highlight the absence of deeper reflection and the subjection of individual conscience to the power and continuity of the respective institutions serviced by these two leaders (government and church).
    Fr. Twomey is entitled to his followers and proxies on this site. There is nothing to stop him commenting himself, though, on the basis of his form to date, I think he would see that as beneath him.
    And just for the record, I am Benny, and acknowledged as such on my website. The Bulls blog was started as an outlet for religious commentary which I initially wanted to keep separate from my main blogs, but I outed myself re that blog and Dominusvobiscuit on my website in recent times. The latter blog was set up when Blogger deleted Benny’s Bulls blog but I managed to get that restored and am now the proud operator of four blogs along with my website.

  17. Nuala O'Driscoll

    Eddie your intimate knowledge of all things ecclesiastical, your command of languages, English, Latin and the cupla focal are always impressive, except when your comments are peppered with sarcasm (the lowest form of wit)and insults, (I cringe for Darlene sometimes). Fr Vincent and yourself are the recipients of the type of privileged education that at that time was denied to half of the population. I once heard Mary T. Malone say that she became a theologian ‘through the back door’! The Documents of Vatican ll, of which you are very familiar, are one more layer of male thought and male psychology (freedom of conscience comes from within the deep recesses of a persons being), on top of centuries and centuries of exclusively male thought and psychology. Freedom of conscience is sacrosanct. No ifs or buts. I can’t speak for a man, but I know that the inner workings of a woman’s mind, psyche and physiology when it comes to reproduction is not catered for in Church dogmas and decrees. In fact the Church’s teaching on sexual matters is like a bull in a china shop. I’m putting my head above my Cabra (Dublin 7) constructed parapet here because I have nothing to lose, unlike the 1,000. The ACP is a glimmer of hope on a dark horizon, but it is not going to change the dogma of Papal infallibility or ultra montanism, I think they are caught between a rock and a hard place, and I empathize and sympathise with them.

  18. DOM

    John Henry Newman has written about Conscience on many occasions. However, in this one short quotation he has caught the essence of it “Certainly, if I am obliged to bring religion into after-dinner toasts (which indeed does not seem quite the thing). I shall drink – to the Pope, if you please, – still to conscience first, and to the Pope afterwards”. Perhaps, this might be an explanation of why it has taken so long for him to be declared Blessed.

  19. Eddie Finnegan

    Nuala@17, I’ve just seen your comment – these days I’m just dipping into the site spasmodically. Thanks for the crack over my knuckles – referring to another thread, I think. Sometimes deserved, no doubt, though I’d dispute the ‘sarcasm’ charge. As one of her Northern Welcoming Detail on 5th January last, I’ve found Darlene a most pervasive spirit on these pages, an enthusiastic spreader of epiphanies – sometimes a little overwhelming for us dour and sober Ulster types. I find, as with all of us, that Darlene is at her best when Darlene leaves Darlene on the sidelines rather than in seeking close papal encounters, however virtual. I think Darlene is well fit to field anything I may throw in her direction.
    You give me a laugh when you seem to harness me with Vincent Twomey, or see us as twin peas in a privileged pod. Pól@16 (whose Benny the Bridgebuilder treatment of Vincent has recently caused me chortles) also seems to slot me among the Twomey “followers and proxies” just because I said a word in defence of “A Young Priest”@9 when Josephine@14 seemed to read too much into his adoption of a pseudonym. For the past eight years I’ve been having a go at Vincent, latterly on this site. But there are times, as in the Opinion piece above, when I agree with him. Vincent is at his best when Vincent leaves Vincent on the sidelines, rather than rehearsing real or imagined close papal encounters of the Regensburg kind.
    Nuala, enjoy your excommunication with a clear conscience. If I had been ordained in June 1968, or if I had had any claim to be any sort of a theologian in July 1968, I’d have signed up to Charles Curran’s list of 800 contra ‘Humanae Vitae’. But I still think ‘Humanae Vitae’ is worth re-reading and reflecting upon. As are most of the Vatican II Documents; as is most of what Joseph Ratzinger has written; as is some of what Vincent Twomey has published, including his ‘Pope Benedict XVI: the Conscience of Our Age’.
    No, Nuala, I claim no “intimate knowledge of all things ecclesiastical”, as you put it. In a Google era we can all be theological or philosophical magpies, picking up whatever catches our eye. And if Pope Francis has a titter of wit, he’ll stay far outside marital or even non-marital bedroom doors for as long as he can. I suspect that area isn’t his forte.

  20. Nuala O'Driscoll

    Thanks for your comment Eddie. And please forgive me for laboring the point, but do you not see that we have been conditioned over many many centuries to believe in only male thought and teachings, to believe in only a male idea of God? A little knowledge is a dangerous thing and so it was for me, when after living my life and raising my kids to the letter of Church law, and loving it very deeply, I became aware through a little further education and reading books by Charles Curran and Sean Fagan, among others, that as a woman I am authentically entitled to think, feel, pray, live, and love God in different way to men. It is like trying to square a circle, I just don’t fit anymore and I think I am not alone. And your description is apt, I am a theological, philosophical magpie, I feed off the crumbs that fall from the theological tables of people like Vincent Twomey and others who have benefited so richly from a priestly education. And I always enjoy your postings.

  21. Joe O'Leary

    Humanae Vitae is worth rereading — yes, but its determination about the morality of contraception is what makes the document a disaster, and the good things in the document offer no real support for that determination. It is rather futile to laud the nice parts of the encyclical (supposedly written by Gustave Martelet sj) when that has never been controversial. When people say Humanae Vitae they are not referring to a nice piece of theological prose but to a calamitous moral judgment.

  22. A young priest

    @ 14 above, Josephine, as a young priest, I am unwilling, not unable to put my name here. I prefer not to be associated with the ACP as it does not represent my views or, in my experience, the views of younger priests. I just like to look in on occasion and see what’s going on.

  23. WOB

    It seems to me that we have lost the fundamental concern which is the basis for judgement in Humanae Vitae, that life begins with conception. Has this always been the view of the church? Has the church in the past viewed life as beginning with quickening? We have take a very conservative (read cautious) stance on the beginning of life precisely because our science cannot tell us when life begins. Therefore we have an ideal- i.e. life begins at conception- without a strong scientific basis – based on faith. Is this then the only guiding principle for the formation of conscience? Paul VI asked a very important question about artificial forms of birth control: “What does this do to the woman’s body?” What are the side effects? There was not enough scientific data to answer the question and therefore he could not say that the methods available were good.
    We seem to have painted ourselves into a theological corner. The primary (read only) purpose of marriage is the procreation of children and all marital actions must have that end in intent. WE have abandoned the idea of love and mutual respect. (Recently the official responsible for dispensation demanded that the catholic party sign the statement about raising children as Catholics — despite the fact that she was over 60 years old.)
    We need to go back to the initial question of the beginning of life, acknowledging that we do not know definitively when it begins. It is there that the conscience must begin to be formed. Do we believe that prevention of pregnancy is as morally reprehensible as abortion? The purpose of an encyclical is not to provide de fide statements, but to give direction for the formation of a conscience, with the admission that there are other conclusions possible.
    The ideals of life at conceptions and openness to the procreation of children should not be lost, but also should not become such absolutes as to prevent other goods from occurring.
    We hold many ideals that we can back away from, most clearly that taking a human life is morally wrong, however we allow for “just war” and “self defense” clearly not in line with the ideals of Jesus in the gospel.

  24. Joan Murphy

    I think the worries of Josephine at 14 above for the young priest who was ‘unable or unwilling’ to sign his comment will not be helped by his response at 22.
    I’m amused that he doesn’t want to be associated with ACP but likes to look in on occasions!
    It reminds me of what my young son does when watching a scary TV programme- just looks out through his fingers!
    It’s sad to see such fear in adult men.
    Our church needs to proclaim again the words of the Gospel ‘be not afraid’ so all -young and old – can move forward with courage.

  25. Pól Ó Duibhir

    Eddie @19
    “Followers and proxies” wasn’t directed at you. It was a more generalised comment and your opinions are too varied to be slotted into that label.
    I was getting at Vincent who seems to turn up where it suits him and where he’ll have his ego tickled (RTÉ) but avoid the more difficult occasions (debate on gay adoption in the Philosoph in UCC).
    Glad Benny gives you the odd chortle. I enjoy doing it, and it allows me to vent a bit.

  26. maureen mulvaney

    A young priest @ # 9. That’s a very poor excuse for not putting your name to your 2 sentences. You say you don’t want “to be associated with the ACP… and still you “like to look in on occasion” I doubt if everybody who comments on the site are associated with ACP, but still they give their views for or against, just like Vincent Twomey has done.

  27. Soline Humbert

    Dear anonymous young priest@9
    You are very wise not to want to be associated, even marginally, with the ACP. I hope you are equally careful when it comes to those other undesirables. I mean talkative Samaritan women, greedy tax-collectors,squabbling-for-power disciples, begging lepers, don’t-take-no-for-an-answer Syro-Phoenician women, wine-imbibers, prostitutes, women bent in two, stinking-dead-for-3days men, Resurrection-delusional women,
    collaborators with the occupying powers, bleeding women (literally and metaphorically). And please don’t let a woman of ill repute ever touch you…..Keep yourself clean and holy and apart and you’ll live a long life…and you may even be a bishop some day. Otherwise, well, just read the Gospels and see what befalls the imprudent who throws caution to the wind…
    PS I should have also warned you against French women with a vocation to the priesthood, but I guess you wouldn’t be so foolish. Just remember to heed the “Unclean! Unclean!” warning and step well out of the way. Better: keep your door tightly shut and proclaim the Good News through the keyhole…

  28. Nuala O'Driscoll

    Powerful stuff Soline.
    Like Mary’s Magnificat.
    “..why so much unconscious fear of women and the feminine in the Church?”

  29. mjt

    Soline, Instead of a keyhole, bring back the pulpit too? I mean the one we used to have to look up at, way above our heads, often in ornately cut marble.

  30. ger gleeson

    Eddie Finnegan @15, there is no ACP hymn book as far as I am aware. That said, there is so much more I do receive such as a sincere Thank You, when both my wife and I pay our annual subscription. I doubt that you are a member Eddie, but I am sure you pay up your €20 just to keep the wheels of communication moving. I also feel privileged to be part of a family whose voice has not been heard before. Throughout my life I have been lectured by so called learned MEN such as Fr Vincent, on all aspects of life. Generally these MEN have lived in a secure world, far removed from the real world that the rest of us live in.
    I am sure I am not alone when I say a big thank you to the ACP, for the opportunity of making my voice heard through this website. Both the educated, and not so educated, women, men, divorced, separated, religious, non religious, gay, Irish, oversees, and many others, have made their voice heard, From my point of view Eddie, this is one of the few arms of our Church, set up by good Priests who work at the coalface, which works, and believe it or not, we can voice our own opinion on matters, rather than simply follow the dictates of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
    Fair play to you Eddie for spouting a little Latin. Sorry, but as I received most of my education on the streets of Limerick I do not understand a word of what you are saying. I did learn another language there, but I doubt if the Moderator would accept my piece if I state my few words.
    Finally Eddie your contributions are special, educated, thoughtful, sarcastic, and funny. To my way of thinking you are almost as good as the Vicar of Dibly.

  31. markdask

    Eddie Finnegan you will burn in hell for your wit – welcome to the party, its a little hot but the view is nice:) As for A young priest, Father, the ACP may not be your cup of tea, but your anonymous comments are also welcome. Now if I, a gnarled 55 year old Sceptic Irishman, were to meet you in person, would you expect me to call you Father? In humility – “Know thy place”.

  32. markdask

    Ooh and by the way Nuala, @17, my Dad always told me that vulgarity is the lowest form of wit. Whoever told you that Sarcasm is? Sarcasm is a blunt intellectual tool but it is far superior to vulgarity, a no-hope, pointless form of interpersonal abuse. Give me sarcasm any day – at least it makes a point.

  33. A young priest

    OMG… Just reading some of the above comments…. Folks… Seriously… This is a form of cyber bullying! Am I not entitled to be the way I am? Why the argument against my person? Adults? Not !!!

  34. Diffal

    @ no.23 WOB “We have take a very conservative (read cautious) stance on the beginning of life precisely because our science cannot tell us when life begins.”

    Actually medical science shows us that from the moment the sperm and egg fuse we have a biologically distinct entity with its own distinct genetic material. it shows us that this entity is alive, is growing and is doing something only a human being can do, it’s growing a human brain, nervous system and body. If this is not scientific evidence the begining of new human life what is?

    This is no more a potential human being than a 1year old child(who still has plenty of growth and development to undergo before they become a human adult), rather from the moment of conception its a human being with potential. Modern empirical science and general common sense tell me this, that faith confirms this is a seperate issue.

    PS. With a welcoming committee like this, I’m not surprised that ‘a young priest’ choose to remain anonymous. A very prudent decision.

  35. Linda, Derry

    Regarding the apprehension, fear, prudence or whatever label may be ascribed to ‘young priest’ for not declaring his name openly, what I’d say is that it is his prerogative how he chooses to keep watch over the flock….I wouldn’t worry excessively about it though, having read some of the articles I believe it may be appropriate to lightheartedly assure ‘young priest’ that CHRIST HIMSELF ASSOCIATED WITH THE MOST GRAVE SINNERS and set out to find the lost sheep….I believe that’s what ‘young priest’ is at…..isn’t it a pity more authentic solidly catholic bishops and priests aren’t so concerned….potential bishop there!! 🙂

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