Another dissident Irish priest silenced

Following similar, recent treatment of Fr Tony Flannery, the Irish Independent reports that Ireland’s most prominent dissident moral theologian Fr Seán Fagan S.M. has now also been silenced:

The 84-year-old Marist priest was ordered to stop writing and commenting in public after he had called for an inquiry into clerical sexual abuse in all dioceses of the State.

All available copies of a theological book written by Fr Fagan were also bought up by his religious order and he was required to give an undertaking not to write again.

The move came after he had advocated allowing women and married men to be ordained as priests.

Read it all…

Notice how the Irish Independent reporter contradicts himself. He suggests that Fr Fagan is being silenced for calling for an inquiry into clerical sex abuse but later admits that this move has been prompted because of Fr Fagan’s advocacy of the ordination of women. Is this just another example of journalistic incompetence in religious reporting, or is the Irish Independent deliberately trying to mislead its readers over the motives behind this move?

Posted on April 16, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. Lefebvrians. Reaching an agreement — Fellay replies.

    • There’s no such thing as “Lefebvrians” – and “Fellay” is “Bishop Fellay” thank you very much. Show at least the same respect as you undoubtedly show for schismatic Anglicans and their non-existent “bishops”

  2. Irish Times is nearly as bad as RTE for deceptive reporting, they sit with Satan and his schemes to destroy Gods church on Earth. They shall all be going into the “Lake of Fire” if they do not repent of their evil, Ave Maria!

  3. Irish Independant i meant to say, their all the one, to cheeks of the same arse hole.

  4. It seems to be a combination of slipshod reporting standards (don’t they have sub-editors any more?) and the Indo’s own agenda, which long ago was set by Pope Cooney 1st. However, by any standards, contradicting yourself within 3 paragraphs i.e. stating that he was “silenced” on acount of “X” and then 3 paras later stating that it was on account of “Y” is an example of how they just don’t care anymore – at least when it comes to reporting on Church-related matters. Any oul’ slop will do – although certainly, when it comes to the Indo, any oul’ slop is what you get on most issues!

    As regards the issue itself, notice how predictable are the yelps from the IACP crowd, “fatwas” and so on. Notice also how Fr. Fagan’s actions about women’s ordination etc. are referred to as an attempt to “start a conversation”. How many times do we get this hackneyed old verbiage trotted out, attempting to put a rosy hue on what is actually a fairly ugly action, viz. an outright example of disobedience to the legitimate authority that this man vowed to accept and respect. Just attempt to initiate a “conversation” concerning some of the shibboleths cherished by the liberal (dislike that term but faute de mieux) side of the house and you’ll be the subject of a screaming hissy-fit and handbagging faster than you can say “we’re an Easter people…”

    I’m an ex-Marist boy. I don’t think I was ever taught by Fr. Fagan, but that order is sliding into obscurity. They long ago gave up teaching, and it seems very evident that those few of them left have damn all to do except cause trouble. St. Peter Chanel, pray for them. Blesseds Champagnat and Colin had better throw in a bit of intersession as well.

  5. Yes, there has been some sloppy reporting. Asking for a discussion on the possibility of ordaining married men is not dissent in any form, since it has always been the practice in most of the Easter rites. Asking for a thorough investigation on the abuse of children in every diocese is not dissent in any form. Even supporting Enda Kenny after his speech last year is not dissent, in my opinion, even though the speech had some serious inaccuracies. It’s value, in my opinion, was that it helped release a lot of anger, as did the burning of the British Embassy in Dublin after Bloody Sunday. Nobody was injured. (It has been suggested that Fr Flannery is being ‘got at’ because of his public support of Enda Kenny after his speech. Silencing would be very wrong, I think, in that situation).

    However, the Church has given clear teaching on the question of the ordination of women, as it has on the use of contraceptives. To disagree with those teachings is dissent.

    I did three months of Clinical Pastoral Education 30 years ago in a hospital in a large US city. Three of our group of seven were Lutheran pastors. One, then 35, had been fired by his parish council, all lay people and presumably elected by the parishioners, because of his drinking. His wife had divorced him and before we did CPE he had been working as the manager of a petrol station to keep body and soul together. He wasn’t drinking at that stage. Another of the Lutheran pastors, 45, had just been fired by his parish council because of his liberal views, as they saw them. He told us that his teenage daughter had printed ‘St Luke’s sucks’ – I can’t remember the real name of the parish – on a T-shirt but he told her not to wear it. However, he told us that the T-shirt expressed his sentiments.

    These were two married pastors who had lost their livelihoods and their homes by decisions made by democratically elected parish councils, and one had also lost his marriage.

    Whatever about the rights and wrongs of the Vatican’s decisions with regard to the three Irish priests currently in the news, none of them has lost his livelihood, none has been thrown out of his home – though that may happen to a diocesan priest against whom an allegation of abusing a minor has been made, even if nothing has been proven – nor has any been forbidden to celebrate Mass or the sacraments.

  6. PS ‘Easter rites’ in the second sentence above should read ‘Eastern rites’.

  7. With the spread of dissenting voices in the Church – most recently of priests – I cannot get away from the feeling that this is a tired repetition of what has gone before, repeatedly. However, I do note some differences. In the distant past when heretical views were advanced it was most often with the intent to purify the Church, rather than found a new one.

    Fr. Martin Luther was scandalized by the abuses that had crept into the Church – abuses of power, privilege and the sacramentals. He started out with good intentions and he had a point. Arius in the third and fourth centuries looked to Scripture as the source for his views on the Trinity. He thought the Church had misinterpreted it and wanted to bring it back to ‘orthodoxy’. Donatus Magnus beginning in the fourth and fifth centuries thought the Church had been debased and betrayed by weak Christians – clerics, especially – during the persecutions of Diocletian and that ‘traitors’ should not be part of the Church, only ‘saints’.

    An oversimplification perhaps, but bear with me. One difference I see between those earlier ‘reformers’ and much of the modern variety, is that the earlier ones began by sincerely wanting to purify the Church. Yes, they too had ‘good intentions’ but were more concerned with the integrity of the Faith than pragmatic accommodations. They were not seeking to conform the Church to the world, but to conform the Church to God. They were not looking for an easier faith but a truer one.

    The modern dissenter, under a veneer of seeking to ‘purify’ the Church, appears different. He, or she, sees the Church as being old-fashioned, failing to take note of the ‘signs of the times’ and refusing to modernize. Basically, they are rejecting Tradition and seeking to replace it with dubious ‘traditions’ or new ‘traditions’ of more recent vintage.

    Frequently the appeal is to numbers. Like the devils cast out by Our Lord they tout the fact that “we are many”. There are a lot of us and there’s power in numbers. It is reminiscent of the “Power to the people!” cries of the 1960s. There is a sense that as there are so many of us, we must be right.

    But this flies in the face of history. The modern dissenter forgets – or never knew – that Arianism was once very pervasive in the Church. It was hard to escape, given that priests, bishops and even emperors embraced the heresy. The East-West Schism of the 11th century split the Church, and still does, into East and West. The Great Schism of the 14th – 15th century split the Church with multiple Papal pretenders sowing confusion for nearly 40 years. Closer to our time, the Reformation of the 16th century and following garnered much popular support, split the Church again, and continues to do so.

    Pope Benedict, too, speaks frequently about the need to purify the Church. But he is less concerned with numbers. On the contrary he has spoken of smaller numbers – fewer but more faithful to the Gospel and Our Lord’s teaching. And there’s something historical – and evangelical – about this also.

    Our Lord started the Church with just the Twelve Apostles and they were far from being learned men. He didn’t seek followers among the learned elite – the Pharisees and Sadducees of His time – the priests and periti of the Jewish faith who would be expected to know most about Scripture and Tradition. Nor did He water down His teaching when people complained that it was too hard. He didn’t conform his teaching to the wishes of the ‘majority’. He merely said: “If you love Me – keep My commandments!” No compulsion – just an invitation.

    Today we might put that more starkly as: “Take it or leave it – it’s your funeral”

    And it is – or will be – one day.

  8. Speaking of sloppy reporting, check out this article in today’s Irish Times:

    It savours so much of “dúirt bean liom go ndúirt bean léi..”

  9. Father Coyle

    With respect, describing Enda Kenny’s Dail speech as having “some serious inaccuracies” would convey a less than full impression of that very nasty tirade. It’s a bit like saying the utterances of Richard Dawkins or Ian Paisley, contain serious inaccuracies about Catholicism. It’s a bit like saying some of the speeches of Josef Goebbels in the 1930’s contained inaccuracies. I think the words infamous, shameful, malign, dishonest pre-meditated calumny are closer to the mark. It cast an extremely serious personal slur on our Holy Father as well as on the Church in general. It bore no relation to reality.

    I’m certain, Father, that you do not share Kenny’s sentiments, but I have to say I’m a bit baffled at your use of the word “value” in relation to the speech. Rather it left a very dark stain on public life in this country. It served absolutely no cause of truth or justice. Quite frankly, it was a major national embarrassment.

    I’m sure you will agree that The Vatican’s response made rather a small man of the Taoiseach, while serving the truth rather well. Against facts there is no argument.

    Neither did the response dignify the more scurrilous elements of the speech with a riposte.

  10. Thank you, Leo, for your response. I do think that Mr Kenny’s speech vented anger that many loyal Catholic felt and perhaps awakened in some people in Ireland and in the Vatican an awareness that the situation in Ireland is quite critical. The Church, to al large extent, has lost is ability to teach becaus many do not see in its leaders the kind of authority with which Jesus spoke. Bishops have been largely silent as people are pushing for ‘marriage’ between persons of the same sex, as people ar pushing for euthanasia, as people are pushing for the legalisation of the ultimate form of child abuse, abortion. It is ironic that the Labour Party, that downgraded diplomatic relations with the Vatican, at its conference last weekend passed a resulotion in favour of the legalisation of abortion.

    Vatican bureaucracy can work far too slowly, even in non-controversial situations. For example, the bishops of England and Wales submitted in 1977 a Eucharistic Prayer for Deaf People. It was approved 15 years later.

    Mr Kenny’s speech led to fruitful dialogue between the Vatican and the Irish government, and the Vatican clarified points that needed to be.

    Visiting Ireland last year I met a number of friends whose faith cannot be doubted but who expressed to me their deep disappointment about what has been happening.

    I think that the overall ‘event’ of the speech in the Dail did more good than harm. However, I can see that the opposite interpretation can be justly made too.

    God bless.

  11. Fr. Coyle, while I commend your attempt to defend brother priests, I would suggest that you are not addressing the whole picture. The current ‘silencings’ in Ireland are not just the result of a wayward, one-off miss-step by a priest or a populist support for Enda Kenny’s outburst. There has been a pattern here and the Apostolic Visitation highlighted it. Nor is it confined to Ireland. We have similar situations here in the US and they continue to lead people astray and weaken their faith.

    I guess what I’m getting at in my constant appeals to the history of the Church, is that dissent and error are not new. They have been there from the beginning and while the subjects may change, the underlying agenda is the same: we don’t like some things and we want to change them. So essentially all dissent boils down to: “We want to change the Church.”

    Each form of dissent touts itself as being ‘new’ – like a new discovery has been made which will change the course of Church history. But there’s really nothing new about dissent and error in the Church. The players may change and their concerns may differ, but the reality is the same: fallen human nature trying to get back into the Garden of Eden or to create a paradise on earth.

    Perhaps modern dissenters would do well to re-read Ecclesiastes: “Vanity of vanities – all is vanity” “There is no new thing under the sun” “There is no remembrance of former things…”

    With the effects of Original sin in all of us, we have short memories and continue to make the same mistakes. We do not learn from history and so we repeat it. God knows this and Our Lord didn’t condemn people for being human. Repeat offenders could still have redemption. No sin – even if committed repeatedly – would be incapable of forgiveness. Except one: Unrepentance.

    And what would make us unrepentant? Pride – the sin of Lucifer and the downfall of so many. When I began studying Theology many decades ago I was struck by one thing: this is dangerous stuff! As you study doctrine and the reasoning behind the great disputes and heresies of the past, it gives you food for thought. Things are called into question that you never previously questioned. Reasons given for dissent seem to carry some weight. Many people were well intentioned and only sought the truth.

    Just like in St. Thomas’ Summa Theologica, the objections to the questions posed seem reasonable, well thought out and often based on Scripture or the Fathers. Until the Angelic Doctor’s ”Sed contra…” where he painstakingly demolishes them one by one. While it is always good to increase our knowledge and understanding of the Faith, there are pitfalls if one is not careful.

    If “a little learning is a dangerous thing” a lot of ‘learning’ can be disastrous – for our faith. And when a ‘learned theologian’ espouses error it can be disastrous for many others. The Holy Father has repeatedly reminded theologians of the one thing that is necessary, apart from prayer, when seeking to tease out and elaborate on the truths of the Faith – Humility.

    It takes humility – the humility to acknowledge that we will never ‘know it all’ this side of heaven. The humility to realize that as smart as we are – or the great theologians have been – all eventually come up against a wall. The human intellect can only go so far in understanding God. Human reason inevitably has to bow before Divine Omniscience. In this life we will always see only “as in a glass, darkly” in the words of St. Paul. In other words, we have to have faith – the belief in things unseen – as Our Lord reminded the Apostle Thomas in last Sunday’s gospel.

    Aquinas – probably the greatest theologian in the history of the Church – despite his erudition which even Our Lord acknowledged (“You have spoken well of Me, Thomas”) had to admit in the end that he didn’t ‘know it all’. And he knew a lot! But even his vast knowledge and understanding were not even close.

    Shortly before his death he received some revelations from God – and what he learned shook him profoundly. After that, he said, everything he had written – all his learned works which we still rely on today – were as “so much straw”. And he stopped writing, leaving his great work – the Summa Theologica – unfinished.

    That should give pause to all priests, every theologian and all of us.

  12. Father Coyle

    Thank you for replying to my previous post.

    I am certain that all of us here feel as much outrage and anger as anyone about the dreadful abuse of minors by a very small number of clergy, as well as the way in which these offenses were handled by Bishops. All of us, I’m sure, desire justice and healing for victims and that the Church is never again stained by such scandal. I doubt anyone reading this has ever met anyone who feels anything but revulsion at the thought of these crimes.

    We’ve had three years of national anger. Just in passing, I might suggest that people speak with those Catholics who are actually active in standing up for the protection of the lives of unborn children. Anger about the scandals is all a lot of pro-aborts have to offer in terms of discussion.

    Many critics of the Church now dismiss apologies as meaningless.

    There are, however other issued about which it’s justified to feel anger.

    It’s right to be angry that the failure of Bishops to eradicate the cancer of immoral priests and seminarians in the Church has led to such trials for many good men. What sort of immorality and lack of spiritual formation was tolerated in Seminaries over the last four decades? For a shocking expose of what happened in American seminaries, people should read Goodbye! Good Men, by Michael S. Rose, if they have a strong stomach. Does anyone seriously think that things were much different in this part of the world?

    It’s right to feel angry about the way all good priests, priests without whom none of us laity would have the sacraments, have been ignorantly and shamefully tarred with the same dirty brush. A true scandal. I don’t think any of us laity can fully appreciate the trials that a good priest faces today. A recent survey by the Iona Institute found that 43% of those surveyed believed that at least 20% of priests were guilty of abuse. The disciples of Josef Goebbels have learned their trade well.

    It’s right to feel angry about the way natural justice, the principal of innocent until proven guilty, now appears to be withheld from priests in this country. Why can priests be withdrawn from ministry, ordered to don civvies, and leave their home at a few hours notice, without any explanation of possibly very flimsy allegations? Talk about being thrown under a bus. I recommend everyone here read two books by David F. Pierre Jr. entitled Catholic Priests Falsely Accused, and Double Standard. Both are based on what has happened in America but relevant nonetheless.

    It’s right to be angry at the media’s virtual disregard of the huge number of sexual crimes against minors perpetrated by lay people in this country. Hands up anybody who is familiar with the SAVI Report commissioned by the Royal College of Surgeons and the Rape Crisis Centre ten years ago.

    It’s right to be angry about the likelihood that the Taoiseach’s tirade will give encouragement to those who are blind, wilfully or not, to the above injustices.

    I’m confident we’re agreed so far, Father.

    I think Pope Benedict has been very aware of the seriousness of this issue worldwide for a decade. I think he has known for quite a while that the “situation in Ireland is quite critical.” Now that’s one for connoisseurs of understatement, Father. If “many loyal Catholics” feel anger towards the Holy Father and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I suggest that they are sadly ignorant of facts. Did anyone mention our media tormentors?

    How many are familiar with the then Cardinal Ratzinger’s words shortly before he was elected Pope :
    “Should we not also think how much Christ suffers in His own Church?…What little faith is present behind so many theories, so many empty words! How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to Him! How much pride, how much self-complacency!…Lord, Your Church often seems like a boat about to sink, a boat taking in water on every side. In your field we see more weeds than wheat….”- Cardinal Ratzinger, Meditation on the Third Fall of Our Lord, Good Friday 2005

    Have any of these “loyal Catholics”, who think the Pope needed Enda Kenny’s bluster to remind him of the seriousness of the situation, spent an hour reading the Pope’s Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland? They and the Taoiseach had 16 months to read it before that speech.

    I suggest these “loyal Catholics” are unfortunately ignorant Catholics if they haven’t familiarised themselves with the efforts of the Vatican, led by the Holy Father before and after his election, to clean up this filth. The actions and guidelines were in the public domain, on the Vatican website, long before 20 July last.

    The reason many are embarrassed and angry about the Taoiseach’s speech is that he produced no evidence to back up his rhetoric. His language was inflammatory, nonsensical, and shameful. As I wrote previously, the quotation at the end of his speech, taken completely out of context, casts a very nasty slur on the Holy Father’s good name. Does anyone really suggest that the misdeeds of others somehow justify that? If the people of Ireland find that acceptable, then we really have fallen a long way.

    His speech suggests either ignorance or dishonesty. Either way, he misled the Dail. A trainee barrister could have pulverised his “case”, for want of a better word, in five minutes. Let anyone who disagrees with me spend half an hour reading the Vatican’s response.

    I agree, Father, that Bishops in this country, as in many others have lost virtually all moral authority. What was all that post Vatican II talk about a New Springtime? No more please.

    The crisis of Church today is very much a crisis of the bishops. Think of Austria, Germany, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, England, Scotland, the USA, Canada… Hardly a week seems to go by without another outrageous example of a negligent, if not schismatic or heretical bishop at large somewhere on the planet.

    The silence or near silence of the Bishops in this country is shameful, whether we are talking about the Association of Catholic Priests, the Seal of Confession, the Kenny speech, the state of the seminaries, the state of Catholic education in this country, as well as those very important family and life issues that you mentioned, Father. It’s rather telling, come to think of it.

    “The words of the Bible and of the Church Fathers rang in my ears, those sharp condemnations of shepherds who are like mute dogs: in order to avoid conflicts, that let the poison spread. Peace is not the first civic duty, and a bishop whose only concern is not to have any problems and to gloss over as many conflicts as possible is an image I find repulsive.” Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, in Salt of the Earth.

    Your Graces, with respect, please forget about saving the planet or the economy and concentrate on your God given task; saving immortal souls. You were consecrated to lead, teach and sanctify the Catholic faithful. Why not read the recent homily of Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, USA.

    I think it is now very apparent that Rome has given up on the Irish Bishops. Events of recent days tend to confirm that. Local feathers are undoubtedly ruffled. Meanwhile the faithful remnant awaits, prayerfully and patiently, the appointment of a modern day St. Charles Borromeo.

    You made an interesting point, Father, about the 15 years it took the Vatican to approve a Eucharistic Prayer for Deaf People. I hope nobody gets upset here. I’m not being flippant and I intend absolutely no offence to those with hearing difficulties, but it’s worth pointing out that for the best part of two millennia, the Offertory and Roman Canon was said silently and in Latin. The use of missals was commonplace a generation ago. The Latin Mass unites everybody across time and across language barriers.

    On the subject of the Mass and speed of action in the Vatican, it is an undeniable fact that there was unprecedented stealth and indeed speed shown by Bugnini and his co-workers when it came to the attack on the Mass of All Time in late 1960’s and the introduction of a New Rite, the fruits of which we are living with today.

    All of us who are very grateful for the Catholic Faith handed down to us by previous generations must support those good priests who teach sound doctrine, and double our prayers and action for the full restoration of the Faith in this country.

    I’m very serious when I put it to everyone reading this that there will be no restoration, no reawakening of the true Catholic faith in this country until the Mass of All Time, the Mass that sustained and sanctified our ancestors and martyrs, the traditional Latin Mass, is available to everyone in our beloved land.

    God bless, Father.

  13. Leo and GOR, thank you both for your responses.

    Leo, perhaps my statement about the anger felt by ‘many loyal Catholics’ was ambivalent. I was thinking of the anger of many at the abuse that was going on, not anger at Pope Benedict. And I’m not prepared to defend Mr Kenny’s speech. Indeed, I was dismayed when I discovered the inaccuracies in it some time later.

    I hope, GOR, that I’m not seen as defending dissent by priests because I’m not. But reporters tend to use a general ‘package’ of ‘homosexuality, contraception, women priests, married priests’ as if all these things were the same. To ask for a debate on the extension of something that the Church has always practised, specifically the ordination of married men, is not dissension. The Latin/Roman Rite of the Church has been doing that since the time of Pope Pius XII, specifically in the cases of men who had been ordained in other Christian bodies before becoming Catholics. In most of the Eastern Rites it has always been done.

    To ask for a debate on the ordination of women, a matter the Church has spoken rather clearly and finally on, is dissension.

    It is important to be clear on what constitutes dissension and what doesn’t.

    I thoroughly agree with you, Leo, that the SAVI Report should be much more in people’s awareness than it is. However, I have an impression from afar – I live in the Philippines – that the press is reporting cases of abuse in families much more than before. Indeed we had two notorious cases in the last two years where the mother was sent to gaol for abusing her children. I think that Irish society may be becoming more aware of this reality.

    I’ve had my say on this matter and I think that we are basically on the same side with regard to principles.

    God bless you both, and thanks to Shane for the forum he provides.

  14. Just a few thoughts on the main subject under discussion.

    I wonder how many members of the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) or those who have been critical of the Vatican in recent days have read Pope Saint Pius X’s 1907 encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis which condemned the errors of Modernism, the “synthesis of all heresies” (p. 39)? How many Irish bishops have read it? How many are aware that at least four of the objectives of the ACP bear a remarkable resemblance to errors of Modernism against which the Pope, one of only two Pontiffs canonised in the last five centuries, warned?

    Anyone inclined to dismiss this very clear sighted, and prophetic encyclical might care to consider the following:

    “It is an act of charity to cry out against the wolf when he is amongst the sheep, wherever he is.”- St Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life, Part 3 chp. 29

    “He who asserts that he cannot be bound by the Church’s bonds, confesses that he cannot be loosed by Her Authority. And he who makes such an assertion, separates himself wholly from the Church.” -Pope Saint Gregory VII, Letter to Bishop Hermann of Metz, 1076

    “If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.”- Saint Augustine, Contra Faustum 17,3

    Anyone tempted to take issue with Saint Pius X should read Saint Paul ( 2 Thessalonians 3:6, I Timothy 4:1, Ephesians 4:18, Galatians 1:10, Romans 16:17) or the Letter of Saint James 4:4, or Saint John (2 John:8). Or the words of Our Lord Himself in Matthew 7:15-16, Matthew 12:36-37, and Matthew 24:2
    Vatican II is invoked quite a lot in discussions. The Council has arguably played a major part in the greatest crisis of faith in the Church’s history. Instead of the much vaunted “New Springtime” we got nuclear devastation. A tree is judged by its fruits. Be that as it may, there are some parts of it that many of its devotees appear quite determined to ignore:

    “The offering of religious allegiance of mind and will is singularly owed to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra: it must be offered in such a way that his supreme magisterium receives respectful acknowledgement.” (Lumen Gentium, n.25)

    “In the formation of their conscience, the Christian faithful ought carefully to attend to the sacred and certain doctrine of the Church.” (Dignitatis Humanae, n. 14)

    “It is necessary for priests to know well the doctrines of the Magisterium and the Councils and documents of the Roman Pontiffs.” (Presbyterorum Ordinis 19).

    Let’s leave the last word to Pope John XIII. In his homily of 11 October 1962, at the opening of the Second Vatican Council, the Pope declared that the “greatest concern of the Ecumenical Council is this: that the sacred deposit of Christian Doctrine should be guarded and taught more efficaciously…to transmit that doctrine pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion.” He charged the Council Fathers “that the Sacred Deposit of Christian Doctrine, should be guarded and taught more efficaciously with a renewed, serene, and tranquil adherence to all the teachings of the Church in their entirety and preciseness, as they still shine forth in the acts of the Council of Trent and the First Vatican Council” leading to a “formation of consciences in faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine.”

    Rather poignant words, at this point in time.

  15. No Father Coyle, I wasn’t implying that you were defending dissent and if I gave that impression I apologize. Yes, I understand the difference between what can be discussed and what is beyond discussion. But even in the case of the discipline of celibacy, the Holy Father has been quite explicit in his reiteration of its benefits and retention in the Latin Rite. Continuing to question it or wanting to debate it again may not be doctrinal dissent, but it is certainly not wholehearted assent and it is a challenge to the Holy Father’s authority. Once begun, it becomes a slippery slope, leading to questioning of matters that are related to doctrine.

    What I was referring to was a pattern of dissent that has been evident among some priests and laity in Ireland – not limited to there of course, but we’re talking about Ireland here.

    What sparked my response was the article about Fr. Fagan Shane linked to and the problems with his writings – going back to 2004! And it’s not just Fr. Fagan… While I have not been back to Ireland for a number of years, I try to stay in touch with matters there, both through my remaining family living there and reading papers and periodicals.

    Some of the things I have seen priests advocate in the media have shocked me: dissent from doctrine, questioning of the Magisterium, advocating for women priests, calling into question the immorality of contraception – to name just a few.

    I know it is not all priests – or even a majority of them – but enough to be a concern. Just as here in the US the media are complicit in this. When there is an issue about Catholic doctrine or discipline, the media immediately call upon certain priests whom they know from past experience will espouse the secular view and criticize the Church. And this is the message most people hear – leading to further confusion and weakening of the faith of many people. That is what I see as giving scandal and bad example and is, I believe, what the Canonical Visitation had in mind.

    Dia dhuit a athair.

  16. Father Coyle

    Thank you for your earlier reply.

    I would certainly echo your words, Father about Shane offering a very welcome opportunity for Catholics to publicly express an opinion on matters of importance. Those who control the big microphones in the public square seem increasingly determined to prevent anything like balanced discussion on anything to do with the Church.

    Where would we be without orthodox Catholic websites, loyal to the Church. Very ordinary laymen like myself would otherwise be ignorant on a lot of important matters. Keep providing the bricks for the restoration work, Shane.

    I hope, Father that I any of my previous words didn’t came across as anger directed towards you personally. That was not my intention. I most certainly had others in mind and couldn’t resist the opportunity to say a few things.

    What I found very frustrating last July was the lack of informed comment by many people in this country following the Taoiseach’s speech. Again, I think a lot of the ignorance is due to the disciples of Goebbels who form public opinion in this country today. I am sure your Irish contacts are aware of a lot of anecdotal evidence.

    Sadly Enda Kenny has done nothing in the last nine monhts to dispel the idea that this is a virulently anti-Catholic, anti- family Government, resolved to engage in its own craven version of Kulturkampf. The right to life of the unborn now seem to be most definitely in their sights.

    God bless your labours in the Lord’s vineyard in the Philippines, Father.

  17. Leo, your earlier summation of the situation accurately reflects the current mood among many people. And it is eerily familiar to us here in the US because this was our situation 10 – 12 years ago. The incidences of clerical abuse were magnified such that people began to look upon all priests with suspicion.

    Yet studies have shown that the most abuse occurring in the US for years has been from within the education system. But just as with the SAVI report in Ireland, people here refused to face up to facts, preferring to spout their anti-Catholic and anti-clerical prejudices.

    Here we had the same cries for a married priesthood and women priests. Celibacy and the male priesthood were at the root of the problem according to ‘learned’ people – end of story. The mantra became: “If only priests could marry and women could be priests this would never have happened.” This became a standing joke as more and more incidences of abuse by married clergy in other denominations, married male and female teachers in the education system and coaches in sports came to light.

    Just as now in Ireland, bishops here in the US were muted for some time. Some, in shock at what had been revealed – others, because they themselves were a part of the problem. I live in Milwaukee. Need I mention Archbishop Rembert Weakland…? And he was just one. There were many others – some still in office today…

    However Leo, be of good heart. Things have changed here in the US. Good bishops have found their voices – Dolan, Chaput, Jenky, Finn, ro name a few. Good orthodox priests are being ordained and older orthodox priests are being recognized and gaining sway over the Lavendar Mafia we were saddled with in many places.

    I suspect the same will take place I Ireland, but it will take time. We’re not out of the woods yet here in the States and it will take some time for Ireland to emerge from this trial also. But emerge it will – and stronger than before, I believe.

    But it will only emerge in faithfulness to the Magisterium. “Ubi Petrus, ibi ecclesia”

  18. GOR

    I might just add to your comments that there are two very informative books on the abuse scandal issue by author David F. Pierre Jr. entitled Double Standard and Catholic Priests Falsely Accused. Both are short, quick reads but very disturbing and a real eye opener.

    They are based on the situation in America but are very, very useful for all Catholics who might find themselves discussing this issue with family, friends or work colleagues. These books would be ideal for giving to the critics we all come in contact with. Highly recommended.

    What is really dreadful is that non- clerical cases are largely ignored by the media. No prizes for guessing why. Truth and justice are not part of the agenda.

    The above books also demonstrate that the SNAP organization is an aggressive Alinskyite enemy of the Church. As I’m sure you know, GOR, when Cardinal Dolan was a prelate in Milwaukee he tried to engage with SNAP and support victims. On the occasion of a visit to one particular parish, however, a member of SNAP spat in the Archbishop’s face. I wonder if that story ever made the news.

    You are lucky to have some stand up bishops in your country. Bishop Jenky’s recent homily deserves wide circulation. In a very strange sort of way Obama might be helping, without any intention of course, to help the Church in America regain an understanding of itself as the Church Militant. Hopefully there will be an example set for the rest of us.

    Good bishops, prepared to act as shepherds are desperately needed everywhere. Time is not a luxury we have, I’m sure you will agree, and delays in dealing with the Lavender Mafia and other delinquent bishops is, I fear, going to endanger countless souls.

    I agree totally with your comment about the necessity of faithfulness to the Magisterium.

  19. Yes Leo, I am familiar with David Pierre’s work. It was good to see him highlight the shocking case of Fr. Gordon McRae recently as well. As to SNAP, I have no respect at all for that organization. It may have started with good intentions but has been hijacked by money-grubbing lawyers and secular, populist sentiments that have little to do with justice. My own diocese, among others, is in bankruptcy as a result of their continued attacks. This is not to minimize the scandal of the perpetrators and their enablers in the Church, but more innocent people are being victimized today by groups like SNAP.

    Large cash awards do little to assuage the memories of past injuries and serve more to line the pockets of the lawyers than help the victims. Many others jump on the bandwagon resulting in further injustice and a ‘culture of victimhood’ that does little to redress the past or provide healing. We have lost a sense of bearing with injury and injustice, offering up misfortune, and seek our ‘pound of flesh’ instead. That is not the teaching of Our Lord, nor is it justice.

    I agree that Obama may have unwittingly opened the eyes of the many Catholics who supported him four years ago. November can’t come soon enough!

    • GOR, my apologies for the delay in approving that comment. For some strange reason it went into the SPAM folder and I only just seen it now.

  20. No need to apologize Shane. Something weird was going on as I made a number of attempts to post it but it never came up as being received. Thank you for the opportunity to post comments!

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