Saturday, 30 July 2011

Ireland and the Vatican

There have been many reports of the row between the Irish Government and the Vatican, which has been so severe that yesterday the Catholic Herald published an article titled Debate: Is there any hope for Catholic Ireland?

Here is the full text of what Enda Kenny originally said.

The Church Times has carried two reports by Gregg Ryan. Last week there was Ireland: abuse report leads to Church-State rift. This week there is Irish PM excoriates Vatican as Nuncio is flown home.

This weekend, the Guardian, in its Face to Faith column, has George Pitcher The Vatican response to the child abuse row in Ireland looks like repentance-lite.

And on Cif belief Massimo Franco writes about Sex abuse scandals and the secularisation of sin.

The Tablet has an editorial Ireland needs a healing touch.

Earlier, Ferdinand von Prondsynski wrote The RC Church in Ireland, coming out fighting: a wise strategy?

Even the Financial Times had an editorial: Arrogant Vatican.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 9:00am BST | TrackBack
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the financial times link at the moment is saying :


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Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 12:34pm BST

The rape and torture of children and their subsequent humiliation and degradation as they see the perpetrators lauded and honoured in their communities is about as bad as it gets.

One does wonder along with Ferdinand von Prondsynski if the present and past revelations have eviscerate the Church to the degree that in the minds of most people this horrendous calumny is its sole legacy.

On the PR front there are firm (some say desperate) attempts to distance the Vatican's monarch from the taint of involvement first as a bishop, then as head of the CDF and now as Ruler. These efforts have been reasonably successful, until now. Even on the UK trip he managed to distance himself from the scandals that have erupted on his watch, but I suspect that the campaign to see him as the white knight surrounded by Vatican baddies may yet backfire.

The Catholic Church being a State with a State runs through the Taoiseach's address, but while the past has seen a symbiosis between these entities (to the horror of Irish protestants) we now see the Irish prime minister having a Henry II moment while the Vatican responds by behaving as if its brains are spread across the steps of Canterbury cathedral. The quotation he gives at the end of his withering speech is not from the much maligned whipping boy Cardinal Hoyos but from Cardinal Ratzinger!

Catholic polemicists are looking far and wide for someone to blame, a new Ordinariate priest at Titus One Nine blamed the European Union, while a Catholic news organisation responding to a suggestion that next years Congress and visit from the Pope might be postponed says this:

"In making this suggestion, Senator Cáit Keane mentioned that the Association of Catholic Priests, a liberal group, had already suggested postponing the Eucharistic Congress. So it seems that this politician, at least, was taking cues from dissidents within the Irish clergy. How much of the current hostility toward the Vatican could be traced to the same sources?"

It's pretty unbelievable stuff, but it shows how desperate these people are getting.

I also sadly reflect on how Rowan Williams having spoken so openly and clearly on the matter then ate his words, I do sometimes despair of him.
http://www.cathnews.com/article.aspx?aeid=20460

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 1:41pm BST

Even as a loyal orthodox Catholic , I have to concede , human incompetence and sin has entered here. Remember our Lord did not promise pastoral competency, just infallibility, within a limited remit.

As regards Nuncio's, they seem to operate as an extension of the local episcopate. This should be examined by our own Foreign office.

Posted by: Robert ian Willaims on Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 3:20pm BST

Simon,
Just a note that the Financial Times editorial about an arrogant Vatican is behind a subscription or registration pay wall. I get re-directed when I go there.

Posted by: peterpi - Peter Gross on Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 4:26pm BST

I believe the Irish Church is on the brink of collapse or possibly separation from the mother Church. This is one of several national Catholic institutions in various European countries facing identical issues. This old Vatican way of trying to manage, cover-up, and control all information relating to the sexual abuse of Children by clergy is just the tip of the ice burg. The "imperial" top-down Roman Model of being Catholic is rotting from its' on corruption. I believe this problem extends to all Christian communities who employ the top-down form of governing, Catholic and otherwise, by trying to control their flocks, instead of engaging with them in dialogue which brings meaningful changes. The age of excluding women and the GLBT communities from active and meaningful participation in tall areas of governing their local churches, is no longer acceptable by the vast majority of believers. Disenfranchising whole groups from playing a meaningful role in the resolution of the many issues surrounding the sexual abuse of children, will expedite the demise of this dysfunctional way of being Church. The Vatican is just digging themselves deeper and deeper into a hole that has no bottom. It doesn't matter if it is a
Roman Catholic, Anglican or Orthodox problem. The old accepted mode of hierarchies controlling and manipulating their flocks is over! I believe the American and Canadian Anglicans are closer to realizing what full inclusion really mean. Ultimately, I think this will determine the survival or even extinction of the old "imperial" forms of being Church. Thank the Holy Spirit for the new winds that are sweeping through the various branches of the Holy Catholic Church. Change comes slowly at first but I have no doubt all three of these branches of Christianity must change or die. It just isn't working is it?

Posted by: Chris Smith on Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 4:53pm BST

I am sorry that some people are having a problem with the Financial Times article. It works for me and I am certainly not a paid subscriber. I believe that free registration may well be needed.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 6:43pm BST

I had to log in to access the FT article. There are several registration options and I have the free one.

But I was able to access the FT article linked from the opinion article above without logging in!

Posted by: Peter Owen on Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 7:48pm BST

"It works for me.... "

Hmmm!! Typical man!

Actually I think the FT were having a few probs this morning ....

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 8:30pm BST

@Chris Brown

In the eyes of both friends and foe of the Catholic church in Ireland, I think the one thing all people here in Ireland would agree on is that it is not on the brink of collapse or separation from the mother Church.

Yes, there is anger, resentment, a public diplomatic spat, falling mass attendance etc... but to claim these as indicators of "collapse" or a some sort of "Lutheran turn" is just alarmist and fantastical rather than rooted in any reality - remember the mass-boycott flop some months back.

Many would note that there is hay-making afoot from expected sources, and I guess one cannot be surprised nor blame them. The "Angelus on State Television" and "Christian Prayer in the Oireachtas" debates do grow wearisome after each abuse report is published - if only it was liberal angilcanism that was in the ascent in Ireland...

There are many worthy articles on the Irish Times website with different perspectives on the diplomatic aspects of the Cloyne Report for those interested - search for Patsy McGarry, John Waters, Paddy Agnew and the letters also.

Posted by: Jakian Thomist on Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 9:53pm BST

If there is a collapse in the Catholic Church in Ireland it is primarily due to the appalling way in which catechetics and teaching the faith has been done since the nineteen sixties.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 10:28pm BST

"the appalling way in which catechetics and teaching the faith has been done since the nineteen sixties."

Yeah, yeah, yeah: "Blame Woodstock" (that's how the similarly-finding report in the USA was summed up). AS IF, pre Vat2, all RC priests kept their hands to themselves? Please. "Woodstock" (generational standards-change re HONESTY) is what lead to the victims REPORTING their abuse!

"Remember our Lord did not promise pastoral competency, just infallibility"

The letter (so-called "infallibility") KILLETH, while the Spirit (pastoral competency) Giveth Life!

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 11:33pm BST

Blaming the collapse of the Catholic Church in Ireland on Vatican II teachings aimed at returning the Catholic faith to its' roots and renewing it, is sadly, the kind of reactionary hit and run statement that most people on the Right use. Top down imperial models of being Church are in decay worldwide. A reformed Catholic Church will survive. It will no longer be frozen in Trent. It will live and breathe again. It will no longer be a "museum Church" serving ONLY those with Right wing views.

Posted by: Chris Smith on Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 11:52pm BST

But I was able to access the FT article linked from the opinion article above without logging in!

Posted by: Peter Owen on Saturday, 30 July 2011 at 7:48pm BST
"It works for me...."

Lovely.

However it did not work for myself and others here. I even cut and pasted the response i got on pressing your url - that is the url you give for it.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Sunday, 31 July 2011 at 6:11pm BST

I fully support Vatican Two, and I am not rightwing. However catechetics have not been taught well since the 1960s. A fact now being acknowledged by the highest authorities within the Church.

Posted by: Robert Ian williams on Sunday, 31 July 2011 at 8:51pm BST

While I agree with Robert that catechisis has been generally deplorable in recent decades and within my own tradition is now even more poorly served by Alpha, I would also like to note that many RC's with a thorough grounding in their faith have come crashing down as a result of these clerical crimes.

Others rightly note that a Church so overwhelmingly dominated by its clerical hierarchy is bound to be shaken to its very foundations by a scandal of such proportions. Indeed there are some who think that we have still only seen the tip of the iceberg and that we must steel ourselves for even worse. It is significant (particularly for Anglicans) to see how important the failure to enforce clericalism was in the removal of the RC bishop of Toowoomba just a few months ago, so we are not likely to see any change of heart there.

So while I think Chris Smith is some way off the mark, yet I think it is the Jakian Thomist who is living in a fantasy world if he does not perceive this clerically dominated structure is on the verge of collapse - simply because of the absence of men offering themselves for ordination.

As a lad all our clergy came from a small area in Ireland - in 1965 there were 412 men priested now they are down to single figures. It isn't hard to work out the consequences of this in just a few short years.

I believe national schisms are not far fetched, if things do get worse, I think the unthinkable will happen.


Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Sunday, 31 July 2011 at 10:48pm BST

Perhaps the problem in Ireland is the same problem here: clergy with no public accountability to the people in their care abusing their authority behind a veil of secrecy to commit and conceal criminal acts. If they weren't wearing collars, they'd be in prison with their names and faces published as sex offenders. The hierarchs would be on trial for aiding and abetting and for obstructing justice. Cardinal Law, formerly of Boston, comes to mind. He received an appointment to Rome just in time to avoid an indictment.

I think this is way beyond "sin and fallibility" and far into the realm of serious crime. Catechism reform isn't going to fix this. The Irish, especially the younger Irish, know this and are voting with their feet.

Posted by: Counterlight on Monday, 1 August 2011 at 12:01am BST

I think indifferentism will be the real "schism" and not any organised Church. If that occurred it would be tiny. There may be some leakage to the Church of Ireland , which will help cast that church into a more liberal institution. Indeed the southern dioceses in the Church of Ireland are already at variance with the North. That is what happened to the Old Catholic Churches in Europe. They were liberalised by an RC dissident influx. So church of Ireland beware!

Posted by: Robert ian Williams on Monday, 1 August 2011 at 5:54am BST

Where does one get accurate info about the numbers of RC priests and current ordination figures etc? I imagine the situation is different in different countries..it is esp dire in France I gather.Are countries like Poland beginning to experience the icy blasts...perhaps Fr Mark might tell us?

Posted by: Perry Butler on Monday, 1 August 2011 at 8:35am BST

"That is what happened to the Old Catholic Churches in Europe. They were liberalised by an RC dissident influx. So church of Ireland beware!"

Yes, beware of actually having to deal with the issues of the modern age in a way that acknowledges a changing world.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Monday, 1 August 2011 at 11:16am BST

The RC denomination in Ireland is NOT the Catholic Church in Ireland !- talk about catechesis ! Read your Creeds of late ?

To me sounds like a failure of the recruitment, selection, training and on-going support of ministers in the RC denomination.

Instead of interfering in the lives of everyone else why don't Ratzinger et al get a grip on themselves and their own behaviours ?

What a witness ...

New to me that Jesus 'promised' infallibility ?

Infallible is as infallible does !

I would settle for just half decent myself.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Monday, 1 August 2011 at 2:20pm BST

Perry: I think finding the data you mention probably requires trawling through press articles and diocesan websites in the languages concerned - I don't know of any central publishing of it, but every now and then there is an article in e.g. an Austrian or German or Italian paper with the number of ordinations that year, or the average age of the clergy or whatever. I'll see if I can find some.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Monday, 1 August 2011 at 3:07pm BST

"is esp dire in France I gather."

Perry Butler on Monday, 1 August 2011 at 8:35am BST


This blog below gives some figures for the last ten years, but without some historical comparisons it doesn't say much. But an average of one priest a diocese is "insoutenable" ..... to coin a phrase.

Apparently Poland is still in the mid hundreds but has fallen back by 20% and is expected to fall back further as the effect of no Polish Pope and "sociological trends" take their toll there.

Interestingly, the Poles, like the former bishop of Lancaster claim the fact that Roman Catholics are now "educated" as one of the main factors for a decline across the board. Interesting claim that.


http://blog.lefigaro.fr/religioblog/2011/06/ordinations-de-pretres-catholi.html

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Monday, 1 August 2011 at 3:20pm BST

Just curious how much of the drop in vocations is related to shrinking family size and expanding opportunities for education. I can remember families with six or seven sons being glad to have one enter seminary very young. He would get an education and be housed and fed -- that last no small matter. There were similar encouragements for daughters to enter convents. And, the parents gained respect also. "My son, the priest" not "my only son,"
Columba Gilliss

Posted by: Columba Gilliss on Monday, 1 August 2011 at 3:26pm BST

Stop worrying about the Catholic Church..its God's church and there will always be priests. The last Bishop of Lancaster, if you quote him correctly was referring to the gowth of modern catechetics and modernism in Poland.

As for Laurence's comments on the Catholic Church in ireland..he obviosly has not experienced the Protestantism of the Church of Ireland.

Posted by: Robert ian Williams on Tuesday, 2 August 2011 at 6:19am BST

Well, Robert, bishop Bishop O'Donoghue's words speak for themselves, he had then recently published a report on how to renew Catholicism in Britain he argued that mass education has led to "sickness in the Church and wider society"

"What we have witnessed in Western societies since the end of the Second World War is the development of mass education on a scale unprecedented in human history - resulting in economic growth, scientific and technological advances, and the cultural and social enrichment of billions of people's lives," he said.

"However, every human endeavor has a dark side, due to original sin and concupiscence. In the case of education, we can see its distortion through the widespread dissemination of radical scepticism, positivism, utilitarianism and relativism.

"Taken together, these intellectual trends have resulted in a fragmented society that marginalizes God, with many people mistakenly thinking they can live happy and productive lives without him.

"It shouldn't surprise us that the shadows cast by the distortion of education, and corresponding societal changes, have also touched members of the Church. As Pope Benedict XVI puts it, even in the Church we find hedonism, selfishness and egocentric behavior."

The bishop said that Catholic graduates had rejected the reforms made in the second council of the Vatican, which introduced fundamental changes in issues such as liturgy and doctrine.

"The Second Vatican Council tends to be misinterpreted most by Catholics who have had a university education -- that is, by those most exposed to the intellectual and moral spirit of the age," he said. "These well-educated Catholics have gone on to occupy influential positions in education, the media, politics, and even the Church, where they have been able to spread their so-called loyal dissent, causing confusion and discord in the whole church."

Nicholas Lash, the former Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University, called the bishop's comments "extremely grave". in the Tablet Prof Lash says: "If he had named a particular university or universities, or particular individuals, he might well have had a series of libel actions on his hands.

"Quite what constructive purpose could possibly be served by such irresponsible and wholesale scapegoating of the educated, I have simply no idea."

You see Robert the Roman Catholic Church believes in an education and a conscience that owes its formation and conclusions to the Magisterium.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Tuesday, 2 August 2011 at 12:06pm BST

The Roman Catholic Church from the top men of the hierarchy to the bottom, is a HUMAN institution that carries all the mistakes and fallibilities that human beings make. The imperial model is decaying and dying because it lacks validity as a model for disciples of Jesus. It aims to control us. If educated people are the "problem" with Catholicism, then we really see the frailty as well as the dysfunctional status that the imperial model of being Church implies. If education is seen as a down side by many who hold the power in Rome, it is a clear indication that the house is about to fall down. This is all good. Jesus would not recognize the current structure as anything but a corrupt one.

Posted by: Chris Smith on Tuesday, 2 August 2011 at 4:58pm BST

Sadly, you're speaking to brick wall, Chris.

To the Vatican, you're but an example of a Catholic infected by

"education [and] its] its distortion through the widespread dissemination of radical scepticism, positivism, utilitarianism and relativism."

This is what the good bishop thinks of you and your kind: "Catholics who have had a university education -- that is, by those most exposed to the intellectual and moral spirit of the age," he said. "These well-educated Catholics have gone on to occupy influential positions in education, the media, politics, and even the Church, where they have been able to spread their so-called loyal dissent, causing confusion and discord in the whole church."

Or "As Pope Benedict XVI puts it, even in the Church we find [in those like you] hedonism, selfishness and egocentric behavior."

Talk to the Papal ring, Chris---the Papal ears ain't listening.

[Have I mentioned lately that "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You"? :-)]

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 2 August 2011 at 10:22pm BST

I see great understanding of Senator Norris as he withdraws from the Presidential campaign. Some of the same could justly be extended to priests and bishops dealing with extremely difficult issues. I think the mistake was to ever get into dealing with them at all. If people just made their allegations directly to the police the situation would be more salubrious.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Wednesday, 3 August 2011 at 4:11pm BST

The following link to the editorial "Arrogant Vatican" is not behind a pay wall.

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/938f870c-b7af-11e0-8523-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1TzT3E9ET

Posted by: Richard on Wednesday, 3 August 2011 at 7:07pm BST

It is so wrong to isolate the words of the Bishop. Catholics are not against education..after all our Church contains some of the greatest minds in the world...but a soul not properly undergirded in the faith will naturally be drawn in by a false intellectualism.

Catholics who have lost concern for their souls and respect and filial obedience for Holy Mother Church will experience shipwreck.

Unless one becomes as a child ..is a scriptural precedent to be heeded.

Posted by: Robert ian Williams on Wednesday, 3 August 2011 at 10:11pm BST

Thank you Richard I found having to register, though free, quite a palaver. However, I was glad to read this trenchant comment.

I quote the most damning paragraph, which should lead to Ratzinger's resignation - but will not.


'As far as the cover-up of sexual crimes against children is concerned, the root of the problem lies not in Ireland but with the Vatican. That means Pope Benedict XVI and his predecessor John Paul II, whom the present pontiff served for 24 years as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Under these two men the Church evolved into an institution wholly subservient to their authority and disinclined to co-operate with civil authorities in the sexual abuse inquiries. Now the Vatican is paying a heavy price for its arrogance and secrecy. A change of culture at the top is long overdue.'

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Wednesday, 3 August 2011 at 10:17pm BST

Robert:

An "education" that denies questioning or challenging of authority is not much of an education. But then, we're speaking of the church that denigrated and punished the likes of Copernicus and Galileo for challenging the authority of Aristotle.

New knowledge is rarely found that does not, in some way, question or challenge old assumptions. Why is it so hard for the Roman church to realize that the same applies to faith? Did the Spirit stop talking to us ten centuries ago? Or is the Vatican so hubristic to believe that the Spirit only talks to it?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Thursday, 4 August 2011 at 11:25am BST

"It is so wrong to isolate the words of the Bishop"
Robert Ian Williams on Wednesday, 3 August 2011

But Robert I was responding to your completely unsupported claim that:
"The last Bishop of Lancaster, if you quote him correctly was referring to the gowth of modern catechetics and modernism in Poland."

In fact, if you look again and contrary to you claim, I put what the bishop said in context and I quoted his words very extensively (mindful of Simon's limits on length of post). not cutting a pasting to give his offering a wrong sense.

You are correct when you say the Roman Catholic Church has some of the finest brains in the world, Professor Nicholas Lash is a RC scholar of great note and as we see he has no time for the fallacies trumpeted by O'Donoghue' either.

Robert, come on! You can do much better than this very poor rambling.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Friday, 5 August 2011 at 12:43pm BST

Martin, you seem to be repeating the old Protestant canard that the Church of Rome keeps her people in ignorance. Bishop O'Donoghue valued education, but only when it was grounded in sound Catholic catechetics.

Posted by: Robert ian Wiulliams on Friday, 5 August 2011 at 11:00pm BST

No Robert, you don't seem to be reading my posts.

I am only repeating the former bishop's canard that education is the enemy of faith. I am letting him speak for himself!

You must do better than this. Accusing me of something you imagine will not do.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Saturday, 6 August 2011 at 12:35am BST

Yet the evidence speaks otherwise..a Bishop who did so much for education in his diocese. Schools which were always highly regarded by OFSTED.

Keeping the people in ignorance...that's more in line with a Paisleyite view of Catholicism.

sad the liberals are now adopting it... I thought you were a bit more thinking than the Free Presbyterians.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Sunday, 14 August 2011 at 7:45am BST
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