Saturday, November 24, 2007

"An older, more sober Catholic" reflects on "That Meeting"

This was posted by Ray on the Cathnews in relation to the "Working for a Renewed Priestly Ministry" meeting on Thursday at the Camberwell Civic Centre. I thought it was worth sharing with a wider audience, so I've nicked it and put it here.
I was at the meeting too and have the following comments.

While I wondered if the young objectors were at times strategically inept in their expression of disagreement, I can readily agree with their frustration. I honestly think the group organising this meeting must talk too much among themselves without reflecting on what their ideas might sound like to a wider group of ordinary Catholics. They don’t seem to realise that some of their comments are deeply offensive to many – akin to saying something like “you’re mother is a dog”. No: by “offensive” I don’t mean something weasely like “challenging” or “confronting”. I mean just plain bloody offensive. You can do it with a smile, you can do it as a woman. But it’s offensive all the same. There were several times in the night when I, an older, more sober Catholic, felt like getting up and smashing a chair against the wall on hearing the rubbish that was being served up.

Paul Collins gave a useful summary of the dire straits some parish priests are in. He went on to make an emphatic statement about the bishop having primary responsibility to his diocese, not to the universal church. A false dichotomy, surely. The bishop as shepherd must as part of his “primary” (if you like) responsibility, feed his flock. But if he feeds his flock poisonous doctrine, they will, spiritually, die. The only way he can guarantee that he is not feeding his flock poison is to ensure that he is doctrinally ( and THEREFORE PASTORALLY ) in line with Peter (and ergo Christ). Thus, when the rubber hits the road, there is no “primacy” of the bishop’s responsibilities. Well, that’s what Catholics hold anyway. Is the suggestion here that a bishop can say “O heck, we’re short of priests here, so even though Rome in its solemn pronouncements says emphatically and consistently says we can’t ordain women priests because it’s a matter of doctrine, I’m going to go ahead and do it anyway”? Lunacy. One chair down.

Marilyn Hatton. With all due respect: if the dear lady is a Catholic, then I’m not. (Actually there were times in each of the talks when I made analogous remarks to myself. But more so in hers.) She can have the title ‘Catholic’. I’ll keep the beliefs of my parents, grandparents, St Thomas Aquinas, all ecumenical councils including Vat II, the Fathers, and the New Testament, thank you very much. We are of different religions, and I’m not having what she’s having. Obviously the God she worships was mean enough to tolerate a vicious patriarchy in the religion of the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Church right up until the oh-so-enlightened times of our post Vatican II era – right up to the life and times of …. well, Marilyn Hatton, actually. There’s a word for this: “hubris”. Enough said. Two chairs down.

Terry Curtin actually made me sit up. He made some sensible remarks, borne of experience, about what it’s like being a married man trying to function as a parish leader. I’m sure much of what he said, positively and negatively, would resonate with any married priest in the Eastern Rites.
So why did he have to spoil it all by this nonsense that we have to “throw out dogmas” and refer to the Holy Spirit as “she”? Sheer, gratuitous offense to any Catholic that actually thinks about the creed they say every Sunday. Perhaps he utters it mindlessly. Or maybe they just don’t recite the creed in his local church. More fool him. Or them. Bang. The third chair.

Anne O’Brien. A climax of illogicaltiy and non sequitur. We need to get away from our old ideas of God. God is beyond our words. Yes – that’s standard theology, actually, Anne. Nothing brave or new there – Aquinas and others have actually thought about this and I daresay at greater depth than you or I. “God is not omniscient or infinite”. Er, Anne, if God is “beyond our words”, how the hell can you pontificate that He is not omniscient or infinite?

We need a “new language” The arcane words like “salvation” and “redemption” need replacing. Why Anne? Feel free to write your own catechism in your “new language” by all means, which doesn’t dumb down like just about every modern catechetical text, but captures all the rich nuances of words like “salvation” and “redemption”. Oh, and you can do the same with Shakespeare as a warm-up exercise. But I’ll lay some money down now as to how many copies your efforts will sell. In the meantime, excuse me while I dispose of this fourth chair.

O Lord, deliver us from the hand of our foes.
Amen, Ray. Amen.

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