Bishops making Catholicism more like Protestantism and Islam.

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Here we see the wonderful Bishop Egan of Portsmouth Diocese UK strongly trying to defend the Catholic Church from falling into chaos.

The issue – if you didn’t already know – is that some Bishops are calling for the divorced and re-married to be able to receive Holy Communion. This of course can never happen because a Catholic marriage is valid unto death do us part – unless an annulment is granted.

“Easy” you might say – “The Pope would never allow that to happen!”

Well, officially the Pope has not actually come out in favor of it, but he has also refused to come out and denounce it – despite several high ranking Cardinals and Bishops pleading with him to do so. This leaves the church in a very vulnerable position.

pope-Francis

The strength of the Catholic Church comes from it’s unbroken line of authority. Jesus made Peter the first Pope, and the authority has remained in place for over 200 years. We have the Magesterium – the hierarchy of the Church that keeps belief and teaching centralized and universal. This means that every Catholic, anywhere on earth, will be under the same authority and believe the same thing.

The word ‘Catholic’ means ‘Universal’, and it is this structure of our religion that gives us great strength. We are not at liberty to interpret the scriptures as we please – no, the interpretation has been handed down to us through an unbroken line of Faith, Reason, Scripture and Tradition. You only have to take a look at Protestantism and Islam to see how important this central authority is.

images-2106The Protestant church does not have Tradition as the Catholic church does, but instead allows for personal interpretation of scripture. This allows the individual to take a piece of scripture, and make it fit their wants and needs. It is this personal interpretation that has given rise, amoungst other things, to women priests and the support of active homosexual relationships, which have torn congregations in two in many protestant parishes.

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This freedom of interpretation is also seen within Islam. Like Protestantism, Islam has no central hierarchy, no central interpretation of the holy texts. Within Islam, any man can declare himself an Imam, set up his own Mosque, and effectively declare himself his own Pope. This is why you could have a Mosque at one end of your road full of perfectly nice and peaceful Muslims who ignore the parts of the Qu’ran that say ‘Kill the infidels!’, and a Mosque at the other end of the road in which they stick to the text quite literally and want you dead!

Within both Protestantism and Islam, this ‘freedom’ to interpret the holy texts as one wishes has only led to division, and is the cause of great weakness within the religions.

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Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta

Recently in Malta, the Bishops have taken advantage of the Pope’s silence on the matter of Communion for the divorced and re-married and has made the decision to ALLOW those in a state of adultery to receive Communion based on their own interpretation of whether they feel at peace or not with God.

“a separated or divorced person who is living in a new relationship manages, with an informed and enlightened conscience, to acknowledge and believe that he or she are [sic] at peace with God, he or she cannot be precluded from participating in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist”. – Bishops of Malta.

This puts the average priest in an impossible situation:

Does he obey his Bishop and administer Communion to those in adulterous relationships?

Or does he obey Rome where the teaching still stands that to do so would be mortal sin?

Should the priest have to go against his conscience – and crucially, the central teaching of the Catholic Church, to remain in line with His Bishop? Would he be at fault if he didn’t? Do the Bishops of Malta not see that this is going to divide the Church and make it weak?

The Magisterium of the Church clearly states that:

85 “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.” This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome. 86 “Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith.”

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Of course the obviously simple solution to this is for Pope Francis to stand up and clearly re-state the central teaching on Communion for the divorced and re-married.

Why, oh why is he just sitting on the fence, enabling this confusion to continue and causing enormous anxiety to his good and faithful priests?

 

How Cardinal Vincent Nichols pulled the wool over our eyes just before the 2015 Synod.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor and Cardinal Vincent Nichols

Cardinal Cormack Murphy O’Connor and Cardinal Vincent Nichols

As we enter the first day of the 2015 Family synod, I cannot help but feel just a little bit uneasy about something. Lets step back in time briefly…

In November 2013 the Vatican released a questionnaire to be answered by the laity as part of the the Preparatory Document for the upcoming Family Synod meeting to be held in October 2014. The purpose of this questionnaire was to help the Church develop concrete proposals for the second Synod in 2015 which in turn will produce specific guidance on the pastoral care of the family for our times.

In October 2014 after the Extraordinary Assembly had finished it’s two week long synod meeting, the Vatican sent out the final report and a second questionnaire. The new questionnaire was intended to fill in the gaps that might exist in the synod’s vision. It asked bishops to conduct an “in-depth examination” and seek out “practical solutions” to the “innumerable challenges” identified at the synod sessions. It circulated this second questionnaire as part of the Lineamenta, or preparatory documents, about family ministry and how the church could best tackle issues such as homosexuality, divorce and remarriage, contraception, and cohabitation.

On the Feast of the Holy Family December 2014, the bishops of England and Wales (under the guidance of Cardinal Vincent Nichols) invited parishes to reflect, with true spiritual discernment as requested by Pope Francis, on the themes emerging from the Extraordinary Synod on the Family by issuing its own questionnaire. The Call, the Journey and the Mission aimed “to help people celebrate marriage and family life, whilst recognising the difficulties that families often encounter”. The document offered material for reflecting on scripture and on the teaching of the Church on marriage and family life, as well as six questions to facilitate parish and family conversations.

So to summarize, in the UK there have been 3 questionnaires:

  • Preparatory Document – November 2013. Official Vatican document and questionnaire for the Family Synod.
  • Lineamenta – October 2014. Official Vatican document and questionnaire for the Family Synod.
  • The Call, the Mission and the Journey – December 2014. A set of reflections and and a questionnaire set up by the bishops of England and Wales.
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Cardinal Vincent Nichols

The first two questionnaires were official Vatican documents, the results of which were meant to be used to draft the instrumentum laboris, the practical working documents for the 2014 and 2015 synod meetings. The third questionnaire – The Call, the Journey and the Mission  was a completely separate from the first two questionnaires, and was not a Vatican document and was nothing to do with the Synod, but instead an initiative of the bishops of England and Wales.

Why would the bishops of England and Wales feel the need to conduct their own separate questionnaire?

The reason is this: The questionnaire results from the Official Vatican 2013 Preparatory Document and the 2014 Lineamenta were to be treated as confidential and belonged to the Vatican. This meant that they could not be published unless the Vatican decided to publish them. And as they were specifically designed to help draft the instrumentum laboris, the practical working documents for the 2014 and 2015 synod meetings, there would be really no need to publicly publish them.

In contrast, the results from The Call, the Journey and the Mission belonged to the Bishops of England and Wales. And although the questions were along the same lines as the Official Vatican 2013 Preparatory Document and the 2014 Lineamentathis particular questionnaire was not issued or owned by the Vatican. So if the Bishops of England and Wales wanted to publish the results of their own questionnaire then they could do so at any point. And this is exactly what they did.

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On September 16th 2015 a summery of responses from The Call, the Journey and the Mission for Westminster diocese were made public in a well prepared and presented document that gave a fair and balanced account of all the responses received from the questionnaire. It also crucially identified the vast range of knowledge and catechises (or lack there of) of the responders. This identification of varying levels of catechises goes a long, long way to explain the varying answers found in the questionnaire and also brings to light the uncomfortable fact that the church must accept its responsibility for the lack of catechises of these responders. You can view and download the pdf here: the call the journey and the mission. answers summary of responses

Bizarrely, a week later on 22nd Sept 2015, a second version of the summary of responses of the The Call, the Journey and the Mission was also published on the Westminster Diocesan website. It describes this version of the results gathered as:

“…a flavour of the feedback to those six questions, based primarily on diocesan summaries received from 16 dioceses.”

It must be noted here that this second version of the summary of responses only includes the results of 16 out of the 22  diocese in England and Wales. No explanation is given for the fact that 6 diocese have been excluded from the results.

I am reliably informed that the response in many of the diocese to this questionnaire was so low or non existent that those Bishops refrained from submitting anything at all. After all – this was not an official synod questionnaire. I am also reliably informed that at least one Bishop said he wasn’t consulted on content of the finished report before it was released at a press conference by Vincent Nichols.

Did Cardinal Vincent Nichols consult any of the Bishops of England and Wales on the content of this report before its release?

It is also worth noting that while the “flavour of the feedback” (note the ambiguous fluffy language) is “based primarily on diocesan summaries received from 16 dioceses, it also explains that “a number of local and national organisations” also took part. According to Westminster’s website these organisations were:

A Call to Action (ACTA) – 342 responses (A highly criticised and controversial group that seeks radical progressive reform in the Catholic Church)

The Association of Interchurch Families – no statistics provided (A multi denominational group offering support to mixed marriages)

The Catholic Women’s League – 132 responses.

The Union of Catholic Mothers – no statistics provided.

Two in One Flesh – 7 responses (A marriage support group)

The National Board of Catholic Women – 48 responses.

The Dorcas group – 6 responses (A Catholic Feminists group)

These were the only groups mentioned by the questionnaire. In my opinion they have been hand picked because of their liberal stances. 4 out of the 7 groups are women’s groups. No men’s groups seem to have been consulted. No clergy groups seem to have been consulted. No orthodox or more traditionally minded groups seem to have been consulted. Why?

In total, this second version of the results of the The Call, the Journey and the Mission claim to have the responses of approximately just 2200 people.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols

Cardinal Vincent Nichols

After reading this second version of the summery of responses published on 22nd Sept, I was surprised how brazenly one-sided it was compared to the very balanced first version published on 16th Sept.

Among the responses of the second version, one diocese suggests allowing Catholics to live together to decide if they want to commit to marriage – and having a liturgical ceremony to endorse it. Another accused the Church of “being out of touch, unbending or unrealistic” on sexual ethics, with a lack of support for same-sex partnerships, and contraception.

Others said they were “ashamed” of their faith calling it “misogynistic, controlling, self-opinionated.” Another said: “Thank God for the secular world which has blown in to the murky corridors of the Vatican.” But the comment that sticks in my mind the most was the one that had the most political venom and was quite frankly the most out of place in a questionnaire about marriage and family:

“…To the younger generation the Catholic Church is a medieval irrelevance. While I, myself, believe in Jesus – I am appalled at what the institution He founded has become. A tyrannical power structure, stuck in a medieval culture and unable to bring itself into the modern world. One good example of this is the so called New Translation of the Mass. A backward step from language that ordinary people understood to a ridiculous artificial so-called sacral language which is no more than a mixture of garbled English, medieval theological vocabulary and transliteration from Latin…”

What has bashing the new translation of the Mass got to do with a questionnaire on Marriage and Family?!

According to this second version, most Catholics want the Church to allow divorcees and those who re-marry to take Communion. But of course this survey was only completed by 2200 people – many of whom were members of Feminist groups or the dissident group ACTA, and the results were certainly not compiled and edited by an independent body. You can view and download the full version here: marr-fam-CJM-report (1)

So to summarise:

  • Two versions of the summary of responses of the The Call, the Journey and the Mission were published within a week of each other on the Westminster Diocese website in September 2015.
  • The second version released on the 22nd Sept was only completed by approximately 2200 people throughout the whole of the UK, and is being falsely presented as if it represents the vast majority of UK Catholics.
  • The second version has been edited with a highly disproportionate emphasis on dissent from Catholic doctrine.
  • The second version was edited and published by the CBCEW without consulting or obtaining the consent of the other Bishops of England and Wales.
  • Neither of these summaries of responses issued by the Bishops of England and Wales have anything to do with the official questionnaires issued by the Vatican.

The Call, the Journey and the Mission was a questionnaire that was set up to collect peoples views on the issues surrounding the Family Synod. It had nothing to do with the synod itself  and was organised by the Bishops of England and Wales. Because the results of the survey belonged to them, they could be selectively manipulated, edited and published whenever desired. Because the questions were very similar to those of the two official Vatican questionnaires, it is easy for people to confuse the two, and believe that the answers from The Call, the Journey and the Mission were those of the official questionnaires, when of course they are not.

Slippery.

It looks very much to me that the first version of the responses to The Call, the Journey and the Mission published on 16th September was just not doing the job Cardinal Nichols wanted it to do. After all, what is the point of commissioning your own survey if it is not going to produce the results you want it to produce? So instead, a week later, a second more liberal leaning version of the questionnaire was produced and published – the week before the start of the 2015 synod. Timing is everything.

What is it exactly that Cardinal Vincent Nichols is trying to achieve?

Cardinal Vincent Nichols meets UK LBGT group QUEST in March 2015.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols meets UK LBGT group QUEST in March 2015.

Cardinal Nichols will now be able to give the false impression to the media and the rest of the world during the 2015 synod that the views expressed in his questionnaire are the mainstream views held by the majority of UK Catholics, and he is at the cutting edge of the ‘modern’ Catholic world, ready to pave the way for new inclusive and diverse pastoral initiatives.

What a load of baloney. This whole thing is the biggest, slipperiest most shameless PR exercise of ‘group-think’ I’ve ever seen. “Oh c’mon! EVERYONE thinks like we do. Get with the programme! Don’t be so old fashioned!” Who does he think he’s kidding?! Not me – that’s for sure. What sort of man thinks he can hold the entire world in contempt by trying to pull the wool over their eyes in such important matters?

One thing is for sure – I do not trust Cardinal Vincent Nichols. And from reading the biased results of his cherry-picked pseudo-survey, they way he slapped down the 500 priests asking for a “clear and firm proclamation” of the Church’s teaching on marriage, and his involvement and support of the Soho/Farm Street LGBT Masses, I certainly know this man has no interest whatsoever in upholding the Catholic view of marriage and family. But he is obviously very interested in forwarding his own career.

According to reports from the C9 group (the key cardinal advisers to Pope Francis on curial reform)  there’s going to be a new Congregation for Laity, Family and Life.  I wonder who might be put in charge of it as new prefect? Someone who might suit the White House/Whitehall pro LGBT axis?

I’m sure the Vatican Mafia would like to think so. Let’s hope and pray not.

“Dear Louis and Zelie, please help me with my marriage.”

Zelie & Louis Martin

When I heard the relics of Louis and Zelie Martin were coming to the UK I immediately knew I had to go visit them. Their youngest daughter – St Therese of Lisieux was the one who guided me into Carmel. She has become one of my best friends (yes – some of my best friends are actually dead 😉 ) and to be able to ‘meet’ her parents was a very special honour for me as a secular Carmelite. They had 9 children, 4 of whom tragically died in childhood. They were married for 19 years until Zelie died from breast cancer when little Therese was just 4 years old.

Their relics were on display at Portsmouth cathedral UK. Bishop Egan said Mass and gave a superb homily reminding us all that no man has the authority to change Christ’s teaching on marriage.

There was also time for quiet reflection. And I found myself praying the only prayer I could think of: “Please help me with my marriage…”

Next week Nick and I will have been married for 15 years. The last 18 months have been really, really hard. Nick was diagnosed with CFS when our 3rd child was just 4 months old, and has not been at work since then. We have no idea when or if he will recover. We do not have an income. I now take the kids on holiday on my own. I didn’t chose this and neither did he. I cannot stand to watch him suffer.

But it’s not all bad…

How many fathers do you know who get to spend everyday with their baby? How many fathers do you know who are their for their kids everyday when they get home from school, eat dinner together everyday, read bedtime stories everyday? (I must just add that as husband and wife, being together in close proximity 24/7 has its um… challenges – like refraining from killing each other 😉 )

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“Please help me with my marriage…” I would like to think that after 15 years of wife-ing, I was getting pretty good at it. But I’m afraid I still struggle with my vocation every single day. And so does he. It’s not always a bed of roses.

How it is possible for us to have got married age 20 with 1 days preparation, and then keep that marriage together through thick and thin in every possible scenario for 15 years I just don’t know. I can only put it down to the fact that Jesus is present in our sacrament of marriage. We have tried to split up a few times but we just couldn’t do it 🙂

On one occasion I remember desperately wanting to leave but wrestling with the fact that if I left, I would have to deny Christ – and I just couldn’t do it 🙂 In the end it wasn’t feelings towards my husband that kept me in my marriage, it wasn’t even the fact that I believe children need to grow up with their mother and father present, but it was the fact that Jesus had given His whole life for me on the cross, and now He was asking me to give my whole life for Him by staying obediently in my marriage vows. It was at that moment about 8 years ago that Christ became first place in my marriage.

Louis and Zelie were terrific examples of this. They had Christ in first place in their marriage from the very start. They obviously adored each other, but crucially they did not idolise each other. Christ came first.

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Gosh! What a lesson this is for us today! How many people idolise their spouse, putting them above God? Many, I would say. And it’s not fair, because when you put your spouse first (above God) you are burdening them with a role they can not possibly ever live up to. Your spouse will NEVER be able to fill that God shaped hole in your heart. And it is completely unrealistic and unfair to expect them to. And when you begin to realise that your spouse is not ‘fulfilling’ you like you would like then you actually begin to blame them for it! Crazy isn’t it?!

Personally I’m convinced that this is the reason that so many marriages are failing now. People are expecting their spouse to fulfil the parts of them that only God can fulfil.

By putting Christ first in their marriage, Louis and Zelie kept their marriage holy, and also set the example for their 5 surviving daughters who all went on to become Carmelite nuns. What an amazing couple. What an outstanding example.

Dear Louis and Zelie, please help me with my marriage.

Imagine if we had Facebook at the time of Vatican 2.

another Vatican Council

Imagine if Facebook and Twitter had been around at the time just after the Second Vatican Council. The 16 documents had been written and published and the church was looking at a bright new future, secure in the truth and tradition that the church has always had.

However, there were those in positions of power at the time who chose to misinterpret or ignore what was said in the documents and instead chose to forward their own agenda of what they would prefer the Catholic faith to look like, under the umbrella term “The Spirit of Vatican 2”.

I’m talking about things like communion in the hand and the removal of altar rails, altar girls, the priest facing the people all the time (which was never actually intended), lack of metanoia (the priest calling the people to repent & believe the Gospel), closely followed by the idea of “primacy of conscience” (all things are relative and sin is only what you consider sinful), which no doubt lead to the crisis in the sacrament of confession we have had for the past 2 generations.

Also, the way catechises completely changed from solid rudimentary teaching (which some considered indoctrination) to quite frankly – a complete ‘free for all’ in what ever you fancied at the time. Holding hands or copying the priest by having hands out stretched during the Our Father, Bringing things to the altar at the offertory that are not bread and wine. The ditching of sacred music and architecture for more ‘up to date’ er… things. The dreaded liturgical dance…

Churches designed like Theatres, and most importantly – a congregation that over time has learned to demand entertainment during Mass, and priests who have fallen into the role of entertainers ect ect ect…

Liturgical-Dance

Imagine the difference if the layity had the power of social media back then. I don’t think I am exaggerating in saying that if we did, the church may look very different to how it does now.

The point I am trying to make is that these changes did not happened over night in an open and transparent way. Instead they have been quietly and slyly instituted by those in power, and have over time, gradually been accepted as being the norm – which of course they are not, and never have been. And of course, as an average lay person back then with little or no access to the 16 documents, and no real way of voicing your concerns (other than to go to your bishop – who most likely instituted these changes in the first place) then what could you do? Not much.

I suppose you could have gone to the catholic press, but before you do that i guess you really have to ask yourself: Who owns and directs the catholic press? 🙂

Now, fast forward to today. We are possibly on the brink of a massive crisis in the church in regards to communion for the divorced and re-married. We have those in positions of power ie. Kasper trying to normalise adultery under the guise of ‘mercy’. And in contrast we have the 500 faithful UK priests who have signed a letter urging those attending this year’s family synod to issue a “clear and firm proclamation” upholding Church teaching on marriage. Good move boys! Good move!

And while it is a sad day when priests have to band together to defend the faith against other clergy who want to change things, I can also see that the battle ground and weapons of war being displayed here are signifying a major change in the way the hierarchy has done things in the past, and will be able to do things (or not) in the future.

I’m talking about 2 things in particular: Transparency and Accountability.

Now, disturbingly, one signatory, who asked to remain anonymous, claimed there “has been a certain amount of pressure not to sign the letter and indeed a degree of intimidation from some senior Churchmen”.

Following this, a statement has been released by spokesman for Cardinal Nichols (who is not happy about the letter) saying that the press was not the medium for conducting dialogue of this sort: “The pastoral experience and concern of all priests in these matters are of great importance and are welcomed by the Bishops. Pope Francis has asked for a period of spiritual discernment. This dialogue, between a priest and his bishop, is not best conducted through the press.”  The Cardinal refers to ‘channels of communication’ that, in reality (if you ask any decent faithful priest) are either blocked or permit only one-way traffic.

I know several of the priests on that list and I can tell you now that they would rather not have to publicly defend the faith against those higher up the chain who seem intent on changing it – but what choice do they have? The fact that they have had to take this course of action tells us that they obviously feel they are not being listened to by those in charge. One can only imagine the level of frustration (and patience) that these good men have experienced over the years.

So what exactly have these 500 priests done? They have used the power of Transparency to call out those who are trying to quietly and slyly institute these changes. They are bringing it out into the open for all to see. It is in the press, it is all over social media. People all around the world are linking up, talking to each other about what is happening, what is trying to happen and what should not happen. The truth will out… Good move boys! Good move!

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In a world of Facebook and Twitter there is really no where to hide any more. Things can no longer be quietly and slyly instituted without people noticing, until they are regarded as ‘normal’. We all have access to the Vatican documents, the CCC and the history books and we can educate ourselves as to what has been happening and where things have gone wrong. And then we can tell others about it.

The faithful have a voice now, a strong voice and these 500 priests have used this new weapon very effectively in defending the faith. With the power of social media, bloggers, groups and online communities, the role of the ordinary priest and the layity has changed forever. We are able to speak the truth, and to call out heresy, false teaching and those who teach it. When issues are brought out into the open for all the world to see, it forces those in power out into the daylight so they can stand up and be held accountable for what they say they believe.

What those 500 priests have really done is to say ‘Here we are, solid in the truth’. Now the very public question for those who did not sign the letter, and those attending the synod later this year is: Where do you stand?

There is now a petition to support those 500 priests. Please click HERE to sign it.

The truth cannot be suppressed. The Holy Spirit will never be suppressed. The days of being able to masquerade false ideas as the truth are over.

TRUTH-CAGED-LION

Sources:

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2015/03/24/nearly-500-priests-in-england-and-wales-urge-synod-to-stand-firm-on-communion-for-the-remarried/

http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/2015/03/cardinal-nichols-attempts-to-silence-faithful-priests-this-will-backfire/

Dissident Fr. Timothy Radcliffe speaking at Flame 2 UK Youth conference: Are CYMFed recognising and respecting parents’ role as primary educator and protector?

Fr Timothy Radcliffe shares Cardinal Walter Kasper's views on Communion for the divorced and re-married.

Fr Timothy Radcliffe shares Cardinal Walter Kasper’s views on Communion for the divorced and re-married.

Many people have contacted me since reading my last article Women Priests, Gay Sex, and Communion for the Re-Married: Is Fr. Timothy Radcliffe an appropriate speaker for Flame2 Youth Conference 2015? Mostly, people have been angry that a man with these views would be allowed to speak at a UK youth event. Many others have thanked me for alerting them to this issue as they had no idea what Timothy Radcliffe’s views were.

I believe parents and youth ministers alike would have sent their kids to this event in good faith, not realising that Radcliffe holds these views. If parents want their kids to listen to a speaker like Radcliffe then fine, but is the responsibility of CYMFed to be honest as to what they are providing.

It’s such a shame, because Flame 2 could have been such a fantastic event – if only they could employ speakers who are in line with the Catholic faith. I truly hope Flame 2 successfully goes ahead without Radcliffe. There is of course still time for CYMFed to drop him and find another speaker – let’s hope they do. But until that time, they will continue to be held accountable for the fact that they are continuing to sell tickets without informing people of Radcliffe’s views.

Half of the 10,000 tickets have already been sold – many bought in large quantity by youth groups and dioceses.  Since the information regarding Radcliffe’s views has now been brought to public attention, the responsibility to inform parents of Radcliffe’s views also lies on the Bishops, clergy and youth workers who are asking parents to part with £20 per ticket and more importantly, to trust them with the care of their children. They have now been put in a very difficult and embarrassing position. Of course they have no choice but to inform parents of the situation, but this will most likely result in many parents wanting a re-fund and feeling extremely let down.

Cardinal Vincent Nicholls will be speaking alongside Fr. TImothy Radcliffe at Flame 2, which is being held in his diocese of Westminster.

Cardinal Vincent Nicholls will be speaking alongside Fr. TImothy Radcliffe at Flame 2, which is being held in his diocese of Westminster.

Another key point is that ultimately the buck stops in one place ecclesiastically and that’s at the desk of Cardinal Vincent Nicholls (who also happens to be speaking at Flame 2). It is in his archdiocese that Flame 2 is happening so it’s his responsibility in a unique way to safeguard the orthodoxy of the event and how it could affect the faith formation of those children attending.

It seems to me that the parents of those attending are the last to know in this situation, but it is with them that the real power lies. Let us not forget that prophetic declaration of St John Paul II:

 “…families will be the first victims of the evils that they have done no more than note with indifference.”  – Familiaris Consortio Para 44.

The church teaches that parents are the primary and most influential educators of their children and their protectors. However, it seems the largest youth conference in the UK deems it unimportant to alert parents to the dissident views of one of its speakers. If my child attended this event and was exposed to a speaker like Radcliffe I would be livid. As a parent I would feel betrayed. Have CYMFed considered how much damage their lack of transparency regarding Radcliffe is going to cause regarding the trust of the parents?

Never before in history has our human right to be the primary educators and protectors of our children in British society been so far removed. Now, according to the Education Act 1996, parents have no right to remove their child from a sex education lesson advocating same-sex marriage. A doctor has no obligation to inform the parents of an under 16 seeking contraception or abortion if he deems them to be Gillick competent. One cannot help but remember the chilling words of Lady Helen Brook, founder of the Brook advisory centre:

“It is now the privilege of the Parental State to take major decisions – objective, unemotional, the State weighs up what is best for the child…” – (Lady Helen Brook The Times 16 February 1980)

I this the direction CYMFed is taking? How does CYMFed expect the child’s parents make an informed decision regarding Flame 2 if they are not given the facts? Are CYMFed recognising and respecting the parents’ role as primary educator and protector? Or are they acting as some sort of ‘Nanny State’?

I would encourage you to join the ever increasing amount of people writing to CYMFed asking why they feel Timothy Radcliffe is  an appropriate speaker for a UK youth event? And to ++Vincent Nicholls asking why he is letting this happen in his diocese?

CYMFed

07528 643 420

admin@cymfed.org.uk
Cardinal Vincent Nichols

020 7798 9033

enquiries@rcdow.org.uk

 

In my parish, no-one would really bat an eyelid if I never showed up for Mass again.

Following on from my last post…

I got my Divine Office morning and evening prayer book today. This is brand new to me and I am receiving instruction through my Carmelite group. Opposed to priests and religious, secular Carmelites are called to pray just the morning and evening parts of the Office, and night prayer if possible.

From what I have experienced of the Divine Office so far, I know i’m really gonna like it. I love the rhythm and flow of the left hand side saying the first part, and the right hand side saying the responses. I love the fact that Catholics all over the world, including the Pope will be saying the same prayers as I am saying everyday. That makes me feel much more included in the church than I ever have felt, actually.

To be honest I have always (and still do) feel like a nobody in the church. I’ll never be a priest, bishop or cardinal, I doubt i’ll ever be a nun. I don’t have a degree – I don’t even have any A levels. I don’t have a paid, or un-paid position in the church. I’m not in charge of anyone apart from my children. I have no authority whatsoever outside of my home. In my parish, no-one would really bat an eyelid if I never showed up for Mass again. I really am a nobody. A tiny violet, a little daisy in amongst the grand roses and lilies. Yet I have felt for some time that this is my greatest strength.

As I open it for the first time, the ribbon of my new (second hand) Divine Office – still in place from it’s previous owner, leads me to read this passage of scripture:

“To shame what is strong, God has chosen what the world counts weakness. He has chosen things low and contemptible, mere nothings, to overthrow the existing order. And so there is no place for human pride in the presence of God…” 1 Cor 1:27-29

What freedom I have to love God! In my nothingness and weakness I have nothing to gain and nothing to lose. I am a nobody, on fire with a love that God is using to confound the wise! May I always be a nobody,  who prays the same prayers as the priests, bishops and cardinals, to a God who ranks us in order of love.

My Top 5 Hopes for the Family Synod.

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There are of course more than 5, but here goes (in reverse order):

5. That Parents will be made aware, and supported in the fact that they are the primary and most influential educators of their children, and that their home is a domestic church.

Most of the parents I know have no idea of the spiritual authority they have over their children. They have no idea that THEY are the primary educators and that THEIR witness to the faith is going to be the single biggest method of evangelisation their children will ever, ever get. The vast majority want to transmit the faith to their children but how can parents be expected to pass on the faith to their children if they do not know it themselves? The Bishops have to realise that adult formation should be moved up into top priority in parishes if they want the next generation to learn the faith from their parents. Parents need to be mobilised into realising that God is not just something that occurs in church on a Sunday morning, but He is in-fact a living reality throughout every moment of every day of our lives. Our homes should be schools of prayer and love where we can show our children everyday what it means to truly follow Christ.

4. That the Theology of the Body and NFP will be recognised and vigorously promoted from the pulpits as being THE MOST important, counter-cultural evangelising message a couple will ever hear.

Our society is obsessed with sex. It is also obsessed with self gratification. We have a porn pandemic. We also live and work in a culture that dehumanises us into a number on a payroll. The value of human life is not regarded in very high esteem unless you are earning a wage and can become a consumer. Human dignity is something that needs to be re-taught and re-learned. We are dignified simply because we are human beings. We are made in the image and likeness of God. A husband is dignified simply because he is a man and a wife is dignified simply by the fact that she is a woman. The physical, emotional and spiritual differences between men and women are God given and complimentary.  To (re)discover this dignity in the bedroom, and the whole of the rest of our lives is one of the biggest strengths the Church has against the secularisation and consumerism of the west.

3. That the (soon to be reformed) Annulment process will take into account the scandalous lack of effective marriage prep currently available.

Lets take the two lifetime vocations: Holy Orders and Marriage. For Holy Orders you get 7 years training before you commit for life. For Marriage, in my parish, you get 1 day. 1 DAY!!! And they muse over why so many Catholic marriages fail. Given today’s emotionally based secular view on marriage it is more important than ever to prepare and educate people in what they are about to commit to. How is it possible that such neglect has taken place on such an important issue? It is my belief that a huge proportion of Catholic marriages could be classed as invalid due to lack of preparation. And then after the marriage has failed people find they are trapped in a sacramental union they had no idea they were getting themselves into. I truly hope the Bishops sit up and realise their responsibility here. I discuss this more HERE.

2. That the beautiful truths of our beautiful faith will actually get taught.

How can the Bishops expect couples to understand the indissolubility of a sacramental union if (due to complete lack of adult formation) they don’t even know what a sacrament is? Why have the vast majority of Catholics never heard of NaPro technology, Billings or Creighton? – let alone understand how they work or the positive effects they have on, well, everything. Why could the vast majority of parents at the baptism course I helped with, not recite the Our Father without reading it off a sheet in front of them. Why had I never even heard of the CCC or known there were such things as Papal documents until I went to Catholic university aged 31?

One of my main hopes for this synod is that it is recognised that, for whatever reason, most adult Catholics do not know the basic truths of the Catholic faith.  I hope and pray that the Bishops will recognise this, find effective methods of teaching these truths and then ensure that this desperately needed education is actually reaching the people in the pews.

1. The recognition that most Catholics do not have a relationship with Christ, and if they do, it’s on their terms not His. 

This is the real elephant in the middle of the room. The Vatican survey showed very clearly that normal everyday Catholics do not accept church teaching on issues such as contraception, gay marriage and divorce and re-marriage. These are major life changing issues that on the surface, to the unbeliever, seem to make no sense whatsoever.

Sherry Weddell’s book Forming Intentional Disciples tells us that only 30 percent of Americans who were raised Catholic are still practising. Fully, 10 percent of all adults in America are ex-Catholics. The number of marriages celebrated in the Church decreased dramatically, by nearly 60 percent, between 1972 and 2010. Only 60 percent of Catholics believe in a personal God. She really hits the nail on the head by bringing to light the fact that most Catholics do not have a relationship with Christ.

Why on earth would you want to remain open to life when you have already had your two kids and want to move on with the next stage of your life? Why would you choose an extremely challenging life of chastity rather than marry your gay partner whom you love deeply?

The only answer to these questions is that you do it because you love Christ more than you love yourself.

It is almost impossible for people to understand and accept many parts of Catholic doctrine, if not understood within the context of a personal relationship with Christ. A relationship that is based on His terms, not theirs. This correct relationship needs to come first. It is literally square 1.

Please God – let the Bishops recognise this, and Please God (even more so…) may they reflect on whether this is an issue for them personally. Do they have a relationship with Christ on their terms, or on His? Who is really in charge of their diocese? Has it influenced the way they have been guiding their flocks?

 

Lets us pray for the Synod…

 

 

Poor Sacramental Prep Waters Down Faith.

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I believe the way the sacraments have been administered over the last 2 generations has resulted in a massive watering down of the faith. I believe not enough time, energy or money have been invested in sacrament prep. And from my own experience, a lot of the sacramental prep out there is heretical gobbledygook.

Here is what you can get in terms of sacrament prep if you live in some of the parishes around my area…

Baptism: 1 hour

First Confession/Holy Communion: 6 months: 1 hour per week for the Kids. Parents get 6 x 1 hour sessions based on what the kids have been learning.

Confirmation: 6 months: 1.5 hour meeting per month + 1 day retreat.

Marriage: 1 full day

Holy orders: 7 years

Last Rights: We don’t talk about that.

Looking at it from an outside point of view it does seem a little strange doesn’t it?

Committing yourself to the priesthood for the rest of your life – 7 years. Committing yourself to marriage for the rest of your life – 1 day? Committing to becoming the primary and most influential educator of a child in regards to the faith for the rest of their lives – 1 hour??? Really???

There seems to be a lot of time money and effort put into Children’s catechises, and very little put into Adult catechises and ongoing formation. Why is this?

Is adult formation not as important? I would argue that it was more important. How can we expect a couple to remain in a marriage without knowing what marriage is? Or who Christ is? How can we possibly expect parents to fulfil their role of transmitting the faith to their children if they do not know it themselves? How can we expect a catholic parent married to a non-catholic to create a ‘domestic church’ when they have not been given the tools and instruction and support in doing so?

I know what you are going to say: “But my parish does it like this…” Which leads me onto my next point: The Bishops.

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(Sorry Bishops, I’m going to hold you accountable again – brace yourselves…) Why do we not have a central recommended programme of Catechises and Evangelisation for each diocese? It seems absolutely ridiculous to me that in one parish you will get brilliant formation and catechises based on Holy Scripture, the Catechism and Papal doc’s, and in the parish up the road you will get a load of heretical nonsense based on people’s own personal opinions of what they would prefer the catholic faith to look like. Why are we playing catechetical roulette? Bishops, are you not aware of this problem?

We are the universal Church aren’t we? Ideally catechises should be the same all over the world (allowing for cultural differences of course). It seems obvious doesn’t it?

That is what I can’t understand. I am not the most organised person in the world – but when I see there is a problem I do something about it. Perhaps the fact of the matter is that the people making the decisions are so far removed from what is happening that they are actually un-aware of the problem. For example: Do the men at the top realise that 90% of parents that come to a local baptism course in my area are not confident in reciting the Our Father? 50% of them are non-practising Catholics (I’m afraid it’s true.)

I hope to God that the answer is “No, we don’t know what is going on in our parishes.”– because if the answer is yes then why on earth aren’t they doing anything about it? Either way there is a shocking problem.

Raising a child in the faith is a massive undertaking. Primarily children learn from watching and copying their parents. How will these kids learn to form a personal relationship with Christ if the people supposed to be teaching then do not even realise it is possible to have a personal relationship with Christ? How can these kids learn NFP or the true nature of the sacramental union of husband and wife, if their parents don’t even know what that means?

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OK, I’ve thrown a lot of questions out there – and rightly so, but what about the solutions?

I believe Adult formation need to be moved to priority status in every diocese. Only then can we break this cycle of uneducated, unevangelised sacramentalising that has resulted in a general watering down of the faith.

  1. When people request to get married or have their kid baptised, Priests need to assess where people are in their relationship with Christ and then direct them accordingly – delaying the sacrament if necessary.
  2. Marriage prep needs to CLEARLY spell out what catholic marriage is. The couple then have to decide if they really want a catholic marriage or not.
  3. Baptism prep should not just be about the sacrament itself – but about building a domestic church.
  4. Each parish will have in place a recognised ongoing Adult formation/evangelisation course recommended by their diocese.

Our parishes have become Sacrament factories that churn out more and more sacramentalised, but uneducated, unevangelised people who are being let down by the powers that be. It’s not fair. It’s not right. It’s like flying someone out to the base of Mount Everest and expecting them to succeed in reaching the summit armed with only a pair of flip-flops, a can of Coke and a pat on the back.

Bishops, Priests, take care of your flocks – properly.

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Many Catholic Marriages invalid.

With all the hype surrounding the upcoming synod later this year, one issue has been bugging me:

Communion for the divorced and re-married.

I have heard the ‘pro’ arguments from Cardinal Walter Kasper and such like, and i have heard the ‘against’ arguments from Rome and Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto .

But no-one has spoken about the big bad elephants in the room yet: 

1. How can the Bishops expect people to foster a happy and successful Catholic marriages if they give then no proper marriage prep, and no ongoing support?

2. How can the Bishops expect couples to understand the indissolubility of a sacramental union if (due to complete lack of adult formation) they don’t even know what a sacrament is?

3. Why have the Bishops not put proper ongoing practical measures in place to protect and support the Catholics they are responsible for, who are in mixed marriages?

4. Why have the Bishops not promoted and explained the central importance of NFP in a Catholic marriage?

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I am not trying to alleviate all responsibility from people who decide to divorce and remarry, and there are certainly many who knew exactly what they were doing and the consequences of their actions – but my honest belief is that many, many more didn’t know what they were getting themselves into when they got married in a Catholic church.

When i got married 14 years ago we had a ‘nice’ marriage prep course about resolving conflict and speaking your partners “love language” (i kid you not…) There was no mention of NFP and no mention of what a sacramental union actually is.

I got married under the impression that Catholics are not allowed to get divorced – which is of course false! (Catholics can get divorced, we just can’t remarry.) I had absolutely no idea whatsoever that if you did remarry you could not receive Holy Eucharist. I had no idea what an annulment was. I wasn’t really sure of what a sacramental union was and i certainly didn’t realise that I was administering the sacrament to my husband and vice versa – I thought the priest was doing it! And i was a regular church goer…

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Over the past 30 years about 55 to 70% of annulments have occurred in the United States. The growth in annulments—at least in the US—has been substantial. In 1968 338 marriages were annulled. In 2006 27,000 were.

Pope Benedict XVI in his address to the Roman Rota in 2009, echoing words of his predecessor John Paul II, has criticized “the exaggerated and almost automatic multiplication of declarations of nullity of marriage in cases of the failure of marriage on the pretext of some immaturity or psychic weakness on the part of the contracting parties”. Calling for “the reaffirmation of the innate human capacity for matrimony”, he insisted on the point made in 1987 by John Paul II that “only incapacity and not difficulty in giving consent invalidates a marriage”

According to Canon 1095 a marriage can be declared null only when consent was given in the presence of some grave lack of discretionary judgement regarding the essential rights and obligations of marriage, or of some real incapacity to assume these essential obligations.

Please understand i am not advocating Communion for the remarried. I believe in the annulment process. What i am saying that the massive lack of adult evangelisation and catechises over the last 2 generations has been a major contributing factor in why Catholic marriages are not lasting.

Gaining knowledge over time of what a real Catholic marriage is, has definitely strengthened my own marriage and i would go as far to say that in the really dark times it has kept me in it – until the clouds passed and the sun shone again. But i can totally understand why someone who does not understand these truths would want to split up, and then meet someone new, and then try again. 

Bishops – it is and always has been your responsibility to ensure the Catholics in your diocese are properly educated and trained for marriage. The synod is a wonderful opportunity to admit that what you have been doing/not doing regarding marriage over the last 2 generations has been poor. Please discuss…