Sunday, 25 November 2012

Report of "A Call to Action" meeting on 10 October 2012

We are pleased to make this report more widely available.  More information about the "A Call to Action" group

Meeting of the ‘A Call to Action’ group and its supporters, October 10th 2012.

St Mary Abbot church, Kensington.

After enrolment at Heythrop College, the meeting of about 350 people gathered at St Mary Abbot church, Kensington. Derek Reeve gave a brief introduction with the story of the group from its inspiration for the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland through to today’s meeting, the numbers attending exceeding all expectations.

Derek led us in a song to the Holy Spirit and a moment of prayer to make the day a positive and spiritual encounter.

The Rev Gillean Craig, the vicar welcomed us to his church, and passed some complimentary remarks about the Catholics concerning the great social mix who came to Sunday Mass, the attachment to the life of the church rather than to a particular individual priest in most cases, and the astonishing commitment of many Catholic people with sacrifices given for what they hold dear. He described Vatican II as a great act of courage and gave thanks for our commitment and vision. He wished God’s blessing on our day.

Joe Ryan then reported on the meeting he and Pat McLoughlin had had with Archbishop Nichols. The archbishop recognised that something needs to be done, and after a fruitful conversation said he would like to observe and see how the group develops.

We moved on to the four guest speakers.

Chris McDonnell, head teacher, spoke of the dream of Vatican II, which had not come true. He also remarked on the dangerous times in the world as the Council began, e.g. with the Cuban missile crisis, the US move towards the Vietnam war etc. It was also a decade of excess and of confusion and doubt. Humanae Vitae, 1968, was a big stumbling block to the vision of Vatican II. Many priests felt unable to comply, and its issues remain contentious still with many people following their consciences. Two great changes were Episcopal collegiality and the use of the vernacular. Great strides were made from the simple Dialogue Mass that was in use just before the Council. Some people today want to return to that perceived security. But we are a pilgrim Church in a pilgrim society.

Pot-shots continue to be taken against theologians such as E.Schillebeeckx. Hans Kung has become dispirited. However, Kevin Kelly saw the Council as a continuing exercise. He suggested that the bishops were not supporting the people in their pain at the new translation of the Mass (this received to spontaneous applause). Church teaching continues to be from a historical perspective and distorts reality, something Cardinal Martini had said before he died.

He concluded by asking how we make the Church, our Church, the Church of our children? This is our responsibility.

Two questions were invited. The first queried the lack of mention of the Pastoral Congress of 1980. Christ replied that it had been an event that was followed by nothing. It could have implemented Vatican II better, but in reality it fizzled out.

The second noted that there had been no mention of women priests in his talk. Chris replied that he had been working on what might be achievable this year.

Catherine O’Donovan spoke next, and gave an account of her personal experience of the times of the Council and thereafter, which would also be from a female point of view. During Vatican II she had lived in Rome as a Salvatorean sister. She had lived through some years of the pontificate of the fairly remote Pius XII, and then that of John XXIII, who promulgated the Council, and who was far from remote as he visited people rather than giving only audiences in his Palace. There were many tears in Rome when this irreplaceable pope died. She had experienced the very positive time of liturgical changes, new habits and broader social life. But at this time, women’s position did not change, as can be seen in that part of Paul VI’s speech which closed the Council referring to women.

During the Council, a Belgian cardinal had asked why no women were represented in the Council Chamber, in response to which a token number were invited. Women are still not sufficiently involved in the real life of the Church (i.e. beyond flower arranging and cleaning)

The first question to Catherine enquired whether the ordination of women should not be included in the agenda of today’s meeting. Catherine suggested that C/E female clergy often show something men lack when helping with personal situations. She also said that Cardinal Koenig had encouraged women to get out and to speak up.. She agreed that women’s ordination should be on the agenda.

She also suggested that Rome is living in the past. She herself is now a teacher, and she felt that the Vatican does not appreciate how people are suffering, what they are missing, etc.

Catherine was followed by Tom O’Loughlin, professor of historical theology at Nottingham, who specialises in the early Church. He began by mentioning that Catholics are not so well represented in the academic life of his university, and then made three points:

1. There is a distinction to be drawn between Church as corporation and as community. It is wrong to see it primarily as corporation. The Church only works if it is made up of human communities. More than 100/150 in a group and it suffers; but the 100/150 size prospers. Better tiny churches in villages or towns than great basilica-sized bodies of people. There is tension between the corporation and the community, and the clergy have to cope with this and join in the struggle.

2. Evangelisation is just one model for spreading the Gospel. It is a structured thing. But the Church grows and reform happens when people make a decision. There is a personal journey of discovery. This second takes the form of a one to one encounter and is on a small scale. Evangelisation is structured but it doesn’t become real until it is personal. Matthew ends his Gospel by telling his disciples to go out and make disciples, Mt 28:16ff. And also, in this personal encounter, the teacher changes and there is organic growth.

3. The Holy Spirit is seen by some as only coming within the Church. But Pacem in Terris presupposes the presence of the Spirit in the world. We should assume the Spirit is there already. Paul sees the ‘unknown god’ as testimony to the presence of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not tied to the corporation, nor to a past (probably imaginary) ‘golden age’. And this all moves us to witness.

The first question asked about ordaining married men at this time when married C/E convert clergy can be ordained. Tom replied with saying how St Paul appointed presbyters in his pastoral journey to be presiders. The corporation of the Church puts celibacy and personal sanctity ahead of the responsibility of presiding, whereas the first job is that of presiding, and where the Holy Spirit would call someone (i.e.anyone).

The second question asked whether the Church should know more about the role of women in the early Church.. Tom noted how we are all creatures of the times in which we live, and how in the first days of the Church it would have been unthinkable for anyone but a man to be host at a dinner; (he would be the presider). But our understanding of host and presider has changed radically and there is space to bring this to the question of an ordained woman presider at Mass.

Fr Gerry Hughes SJ, former philosophy teacher and now at Oxford, then spoke.At the time of Vatican II there was the great notion that the Spirit was breathing everywhere and on everyone. This squared well with subsidiarity and with local solutions being the best. But our over-centralised Church does not help this.

Today there is fear. Many parishioners are afraid to talk frankly to their parish priest, and vice versa. The ‘simple faithful’ have so much to tell and share! Such sharing is more important than grandiose schemes. Rome has recently taken concrete steps to keep control, e.g. the dismissal of an Australian bishop. There are many other instances of this also.

We should try and create an atmosphere where people and priests and bishops will talk with each other. ‘Call to Action’ should look for and diagnose solutions without looking for grandiose schemes. It should organise meetings where people can say what they think and expect to be heard. Authoritarianism is rife in the Church, and it is the enemy of truth. Fear keeps the lid on things.

Call to Action could start with non-theological questions, such as
1. What to do with untended parishes. Celebrate Eucharistic services? Place of women in them? Local people might take charge of local questions.
2. How can a foreign country impose a translation of the Mass on the English-speaking world?
3. Concerning the appointment of a bishop, the people of a diocese should have a major say.
But seeking permission concerning subsidiarity is pandering to an authoritarian culture. The answer is to recognise that dialogue needs openness with everyone respected.

Martin Pendergast, who lives in a parish where there is no resident priest, told us how they celebrate services there, but added that he felt sub secreto correspondence between Rome and bishops was excessive. Gerry contributed that this sub secreto method was a powerful instrument in the hands of power: truth suffers, respect for others too; it is contrary to the Holy Spirit.

Groups were sorted out; lunch was taken; groups formed in various places and discussions followed, until,

Plenary session

Everyone present was thanked for their presence and contribution and asked to be careful to refer to the group’s website:

Chris McDonnell spoke again. He said how a lot of listening needs to be done, and how there are many people who feel they have a right to speak. Priests vary from their openness to this through to their refusal to discuss anything. So, how can we talk to each other, including with those who have different views. When we do we will discover the problems are we are facing.

Why, he asked, are we bothered about upsetting people? Why are we concerned about being frank? But often people are lone voices and will not speak out. Not enough forums exist for dialogue/conversation.. And also, you need to be able to anticipate that when you speak you will be listened to, which often does not happen.

Concerning structures at national level, Chris acknowledged that they can be good, but that more local structures might be better because there you can identify where and why the blocks exist. Slow, gradual steps and possibly are more possible at the more local level and more likely to produce fruit. Also, there is more the idea of come and talk. A national structure would serve more just to give publicity.

There is evidence of the Holy Spirit among young people in parishes, and also in our society – more indeed than in the Church.

Society shows great commitment to the poor – where the Church may be more concerned with sex. Gay people and women’s issues receive more attention outside the Church than inside. The Olympic and Paralympic Games had shown the Spirit at work among people. There is the way the nation responds to crises.

The hope was expressed that the Spirit had been present at St Mary Abbot, and it appreciated how much He was needed so that the day did not stop in Kensington. The Church needs to be more open and to talk about many things, e.g. sexuality, because it is wanting in responding to life situations.

Tom reflected on why Christianity was so successful during the first 350 years. We tend to think of structural unity in the early Church and not much diversity. But the early Church was as varied as you could imagine. Diversity allowed it to put deep roots in very disparate communities. And the trade routes kept Christians in touch with each other and gave them unity. The Church should exist in the diversity of the groups it produces, and its unity flow from that. And this gives a different notion of the problems seen in the Church today.

(I haven’t attributed some of the above to Gerry Hughes, as I should have done.)

Pat McLoughlin wound things up. He described the core group, now of 9 members, emphasised that we are a lay as well as clerical group, how we need to lose fear and how blind loyalty to the pope is not healthy. We pray for the work of the synod now meeting in Rome. We are not an issues group and seek to help the bishops. There is need of conversation/dialogue. We should start work on the diocesan level and form groups.

A personal post script. We 350 present were probably from the 5% in each parish etc who generally get involved. As or more important (and challenging) than meeting with bishops is to galvanise the remainder of the 5% and convert some of the 95% (who since the time of our Lord went with the flow wherever it 

More information

Sunday, 21 October 2012

In search of a consistent ethic

On 20 October 2012 Questions from a Ewe published a guest contribution by Ray Temmerman.   It is a reflection worth pondering
Our Catholic leadership has taken, and continues to take, a strong position on life issues, especially where sexual ethics and the first nine months of human life are concerned. They have made it clear that any deviation from a sexual norm determined long ago is considered an intrinsic moral evil. And any activity, or indeed any method of acting, which is contrary to the natural order of things is not considered morally acceptable. They are to be applauded for their clarity of vision, and their determination to hold life sacred, allegedly from conception to natural death.

But I find myself wondering, and questioning.
Continues on Questions from a Ewe

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Did the Church leave all of us?

Found on Catholica today

Tom Poelker from St Louis, Missouri, sent in this commentary a few days ago that probably expresses the feelings of many elders who are attacted to Catholica. Around the other side of the world, we sit here pondering on the reflections sent to us and simply wonder if these hierarchs and prelates who have been responsible for pushing so many of the faithful away from the altar ever stop for a single micro-second and reflect on what sort of"reward" they are going to earn for this enormous emptying of the pews? One wonders how cock sure some people can be of their "eternal certitudes"?
by Tom Poelker

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Swimming against the tide

George, a regular contributor to our discussion group, sends this link and comment

Swimming against the tide......

IMHO, this is Vatican Doublespeak. It is not about the rising tide of *Secularism* that b16 and the episcopacy are concerned. It is about their frustration with the larger and growing larger number of Catholics and non-Catholics who continually pay less and less attention to their so-called teachings/sayings. The possibility of this effort bringing them results is about the same as the *Catholics Come Home*  program effort in the USA. As it is not possible to dialogue with them, people eventually begin to ignore them, which is when people win, bishops lose.

However, it will give the Good Old Boys an opportunity to drink excellent wine and dine on fine cuisine at the faithful*s expense. They probably fly First Class, too. Some aspects of a bishops life are quite good.

However, I’m not complaining – tomorrow is Half Price Slice day at my favorite pizza parlor!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Some are more than happy but many more grieve.

With thanks to Catholica and John.

There are so many events this year commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. Many of them seem to be wakes, lamenting and grieving over the lost opportunity. John Chuchman today endeavours to capture some of the grief in this reflection.
I'm Grieving, You're Grieving, We're Grieving!
Fifty Years ago at Vatican II,
the world's Bishops gave our Church Hope.
They reaffirmed Freedom/Primacy of Conscience.
Today's hierarchy says it must conform to their pronouncements.
We grieve.

A church governed in loving Collegiality was promised;
We've been dealt a Feudal Monarchy.
We grieve.

The Sharing of Power with local Synods of Bishops Representing the People
was foretold.
Power, instead, has been consolidated in the chief hierarch.
We grieve.

Lay Leadership of and in the Church was mandated.
Rather, the laity have been re-delegated to less-than-clergy.
We grieve.

Ecumenism was seen as essential to the future of
Catholicism, Christianity, Religion.
Instead, the walls have been raised.
We grieve.

We all got excited about Renewed Liturgical Practice
honoring local Artists, Musicians, and Traditions.
In a show of power, the hierarchs imposed
new archaic liturgical language and rituals.
We grieve.

The Council launched Intellectual Debate with Respect for Theologians.
With the silencing of hundreds, Dialogue is Dead.
We grieve.

The Church of Vatican II was to Heed the Signs of the Times.
Rather than a Church of and in the twenty-first century,
we're told to revert to the Fifteenth (15th).
We grieve.

The Bishops of the world correctly saw the Church as the People of God.
Instead the Pyramid has been preserved with the people of God the base.
We grieve.

A Deeper Spirituality was promised,
seen as the essential mission of Church.
The corporate hierarchy of today has no clue.
We grieve.

True Biblical Scholarship was encouraged.
Today, Fundamentalism pervades.
We grieve.

Respect for and Protection of Young people
was deemed essential to the Future of Church.
Instead, Young people are abused
with their abusers protected.
We grieve the alienation and loss of the Young.

Liberation Theology was valued.
Rather, It has been undermined, squelched, stifled, silenced.
Latin America grieves.

The promise of a Christ-like Church with Christ-like Leadership
excited us all.
Yet, It is nowhere to be found.
We grieve.
We grieve.
We grieve the loss of all that Church is meant to be.

Love, John Chuchman
Thanks (I think) for reminding me, Matthew Fox
This reflection is also published on John Chuchman's blog.
The background used to support John Chuchman's reflection has been sourced from stock.xchng one of the sources for free images on the net provided by people who voluntarily upload their work for others to share. Daniel Cubillas who is located in Spain provided today's image. A gallery of Daniel's freely available images can be found at: The image used in the headline is sourced from the ex-christian net website:

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Catholic Fundamentalism and a Catholic Christian Response

Our  thanks to John Greenleaf for this analysis.   The full article may be read here

John ends with a biblical reflection.  We would like to begin with it

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave-just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28; cf. Mark 10:42-45 and Luke 22:25-27)
Increasingly, Roman Catholic fundamentalism (one need only reflect on many a red-faced outburst from the Cardinal Archbishop of New York) is a form of organized anger in reaction to social and religious change.
Fundamentalists find change emotionally disturbing and dangerous. Cultural, personal, and institutional religious “certitudes” are shaken. Today’s Catholic fundamentalists, like Cardinal Raymond Burke wrapped in his medieval cappa magna  pushing to bring back the Latin liturgy of the Council of Trent, yearn to return to a utopian past or a golden age, purified of “dangerous” contemporary ideas and practices.

Todays Catholic fundamentalists, like supporters of Pope Benedict’s New Evangelization, have aggressively banded together in order to put things right again – according to “orthodox” principles. They want to get things back to “normal”….Or as Bishop Blair said: dialogue is “about how to have the LCWR really educate and help the sisters appreciate and accept church teaching.”

Today’s Catholic fundamentalists are still troubled by:
  1.  the cultural revolution of the 1960s that questioned all institutions and brought profound social, economic and political consequences that continue to this day;
  2. the impact and immense cultural changes generated by the much-needed reforms of Second Vatican Council.
Catholic fundamentalism is becoming a powerful movement in the church to restore uncritically pre-Vatican II structures and attitudes.

Here are some clear signs of contemporary Catholic fundamentalism:
  1. Nostalgia for a pre-Vatican II Golden Age, when it is assumed that the church never changed, was then a powerful force in the world, undivided by the post 1960s misguided devotees of the Vatican II values. In fact, we know for certain that the church and its teachings have often changed. Some church statements have been shown to be wrong and were repealed or allowed to lapse.
  2. A highly selective approach to what fundamentalists think pertains to church teaching and belief. Statements about sexual ethics, for instance, are obsessively affirmed. At the same time, papal, conciliar, or episcopal pronouncements on social justice are ignored or considered simply matters for debate.
  3. An exaggerated concern for accidentals, not for the substance of issues, e.g., the Cardinal Burkes stress Latin for the Eucharist, failing to see that this does not pertain at all to the church’s authentic tradition.
  4. Vehemence and intolerance in attacking people like LCWR who are striving to relate the Gospel to the world around them according to the insights and teachings of Vatican II.
  5. An elitist assumption that Catholic fundamentalists have a kind of supernatural authority and the right to pursue and condemn Catholics who disagree with them, especially “radical feminists” and theologians.
  6. A spirituality which overlooks the humanity, compassion, and mercy of Christ and stresses in its place an unbending and punishing taskmaster God.
Remember: Membership in Catholic fundamentalist groups is not a question of logic, but an often sincere, but misguided, search for meaning and belonging.
If we react to Catholic fundamentalists with heated expressions of anger we will only confirm them about the rightness of their beliefs.

Our best witness to the truths of our Catholic beliefs, as they continue to be explored and developed, is our own inner peace built on faith, charity, and concern for justice, especially among the most marginalized.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Call for Action: So why bother? Because the task of reform is worth the effort!

An email discussion has ensued following the meeting of Call for Action on 18 July 2012.

A gentleman who has been an active Catholic wrote, "Please remove my contact details from your database:  I no longer regard myself as a member of the church

He was supported by another who said "I cannot be the only Catholic who is already halfway through the Exit door, and who is pausing, wondering whether it is just possible that Call for Action is the first hint of a new dawn."

Ted, a highly valued supporter of We Are Church (UK), has responded
Please can I ask everyone who finds themselves "halfway through the Exit door" to turn round and come back in.  Over a lifetime of 70 years (so far d.v.) I have learned that the best, in fact only successful way to reform an organisation is from the inside.

Which is why Jesus came first, not to set up a new religion (that was St Paul's job), but to reform Judaism, and to restore it to the religion that Moses founded when he led the Hebrews out of Egypt, in his turn based upon the religion of Abraham, Isaac and Joseph.

To leave (my beloved) Roman Catholic Church and start a new Christian sect would be to create another man-made organised religion, which is bound to have faults that would lead to further schisms.

Instead, I beg you please, to remain in the Church and assist in reforming - or rather restoring - it.  I am a member of We Are Church UK (WAC UK), which is a part of the International Movement We Are Church (IMWAC), dedicated to the reform of the Church in line with the promises and documentation of the Second Vatican Council.  Take a look at our website -

I am also a member of the Executive Committee of Catholics for a Changing Church (CCC) whcih, despite the efforts of some, is still working for the same cause of reforming the Roman Church, and publishes a quarterly newsletter "Renew".  A link to the CCC website will be found on the We Are Church site.

Richard refers to the "feeling of utter helplessness" among the laity of our parishes.  As Catholics, at least we cradle-Catholics, are taught to do as we are told by the parish priest, the bishop and ultimately the Pope.  When we find that what they are teaching is in conflict with our Personal Conscience, we have no "fall-back position".  The ability to decide between these two conflicting concepts has never been included in our learning, even though it is given to us at our confirmation.

WAC UK, CCC and all the other movements are establishing that fall-back position.  My old school was Clapham College (hallo to any Old Xaverians reading this) and our school motto was "Res parvae concordia crescunt" (NB we reformers do still like Latin) which means 'Small things grow by union'.  By uniting your energy and efforts with one or more of these movements, you will contribute to the reform of the Church.

Please don't go away, stay and make your home uncomfortable to those who keep trying to re-arrange the furniture.

In the love of Christ,


Sunday, 15 July 2012

In a sense it is such an obvious question it's a wonder it hasn't been posed more often: what is the objective of the eucharist? That's the question John Chuchman poses for our reflection today: "Do the adorers seek to place God at their own disposition to reassure their identity and strengthen their determination? Or does the Real Presence seek to honor the liturgy where the community celebrates its own power in the name of God?"
What is the objective of Eucharist?

Is it an idolatry
that imagines itself honoring God
when it heaps praises on a wafer
exhibited as an attraction
brandished like a banner?

Do the adorers seek
to place God at their own disposition
to reassure their identity
and strengthen their determination?

Or does the Real Presence
seek to honor the liturgy
where the community celebrates
its own power
in the name of God?

Is the idolatrous reduction of God
to a mute thing
a vainly impotent act?

Why do the bread and wine
take on new meaning
for the community gathered?

Are the bread and wine
Welcomed as Gift
by the community assembled
because people are nourished
and brought together by it?

Perhaps the Bread and Wine
become the manifestation,
not so much of the Presence of God,
but more of the Community
becoming Aware of God
and of itself,
In Search of the face of God.

At the precise moment
of receiving the Sacrament,
the Community still seeks it
and finds nothing more of it
than what its collective consciousness
has been able to secure.

The Real Presence
is displaced from the bread and wine
to the Community.

The Community gathered must move from
Jesus, present in the bread and wine,
to Jesus present in those gathered
whose Eucharistic Action
manifests reality
under sacramental form.

Eucharist is a meal,
the sharing of which,
is a sign of Communion
of those who participate in it.

Though the theology of transubstantiation
has lost its legitimacy among most theologians;
the Real Presence remains,
not as things, bread and wine,
but in and as
the Community,
as the present consciousness
of the collective self.

The bread and Wine
serve as simple perceptible media
for a wholly representational process,
the Collective Awareness of the Community by itself.

The prayer of consecration can be as useless
as the presider saying it
if it does not bring on
Community Awareness of the Real Presence
within the Community.

Love, John Chuchman
This reflection is also published on John Chuchman's blog.
The images used to support today's reflection have been sourced from:, and Christ Our Hope Anglican Church Blog, Dayton, Ohio

Sunday, 8 July 2012

How does ancient Greek medicine impact the Church today?

This is a very short extract from a longer article which is well worth pondering over.

The church teaches woman’s role ties overwhelmingly and primarily to motherhood.  Since she has a uterus, it must be the most defining important part of her.  Since she has a uterus, it should be maximally employed, sort of like maximizing the utilization of a truck’s cargo hold.  Such concepts based on errant secular science in turn fuel the church’s discrimination and marginalization of women.    

These ill-founded gender notions impact more than individual women.  The bishops call the church, i.e., the masses of laypeople, a female, married to male clergy.  They expect the female church to act like women “should” by being submissive as they disseminate their manly seeds of eternal life to fertile gardens.  Inserting the corrected biology into the theological reasoning don’t we arrive at this - since females carry the seeds of life, shouldn’t the female church comprised of laypeople sow the seeds of eternal life?  In turn, doesn’t that make the male clergy’s contribution analogous to fertilizer which disintegrates upon conception?
 Read "How does ancient Greek medicine impact the Church today?

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Rejected by His own.

Thank you to Eclesalia Informativo for this reflection on this Sunday's Gospel

José Antonio Pagola. Translator: José Antonio Arroyo

Jesus is not one of theTemple priests, in charge of looking after the religious duties. Nor is he one of the teachers of the Law, appointed to defend the Torah of Moses. The village people of Galilee see in his healing gestures and fiery words one of the old prophets moved by the Spirit.

Jesus knows that he is going to face a difficult life ahead, with all sorts of conflicts. The religious leaders will confront him. That is what happened to every prophet. What Jesus did not expect, however, was that he would be rejected by his own people, those who had known him from childhood.

The way Jesus was rejected by his own inNazareth would become well known among the early Christians. Three evangelists mention the incident in all its details. Mark says that Jesus arrived in Nazareth accompanied by some of his disciples, surrounded by his fame as a healing prophet. His village neighbours don’t know what to make of it.

When Sabbath arrived, Jesus went, as it was customary, to the village synagogue, “and began to teach”. His neighbours and relatives could hardly believe it. There were all sorts of reactions. They had known Jesus from childhood: He was just another neighbour. Where did he learn such amazing things about the    Kingdom of God? How did he get the power to heal the sick?  Mark simply says: “that everything seemed to scandalize them.” Why?

Those villagers thought they knew everything about Jesus. They knew him since childhood. Instead of accepting him as he is returning to them, they are prejudiced by what they had seen and known years earlier. Such memories about Jesus impede them from realizing the mystery that is Jesush. They refuse to see the saving power of God that Jesus has come to manifest.

But there is something more. Should they accept him as a prophet, then they would have to be ready to listen to God’s message as delivered by Jesus. And that would create problems for them. They have their own synagogue, their own sacred books and traditions. They had not had any problems with their religion so far. New ophetic messages might disturb the traditional peace of the village.

Christians have always held different images and ideas about Jesus. Not all these images coincide with what those who knew Him personally saw. All of us form our own ideas about Jesus. Such ideas give rise to different ways of living our faith. If our idea/image of Jesus is poor, distorted or incomplete, our faith will be similarly unreal and distracting.

Why are we so disinterested in knowing the real Jesus? Why are we sometimes scandalized by His human traits and similarities with us? Why do we resist believing that God became incarnate as a Prophet? Are we afraid that such faith would imply profound changes in our Church?

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

An alternative view

Sam Kennedy has sent this to us.

After hearing various things about this group i decided to check out your website. I am not impressed in the slightest. Your outspoken support for women in the priesthood is disgraceful, women are important within the church and have been since its beginnings but they are not to be ordained as priests. This is exactly the type of liberal nonsense that the church does not need at this time. Countless doctors of the church and renowned theologians have affirmed that only men are to be ordained as priests. These are theologically rooted decisions, not an act of supremacy over women. The infallible church is to be acknowledged as "the pillar of truth" by all catholics, to oppose and ridicule the church as you are doing on this site is simply wrong.

Please stop abusing our church. You are a source of embarassment to catholicism and I have heard your names mentioned to support many athiest arguments.

If liberalism takes over the church, our tradition and most of the things that set us apart from false religion will be lost. The beauty of the latin mass, the respect of our superiors as successors of the apostles etc etc..


Jesus Christ be Praised.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

What do we believe to be right?

Thank you, Ted, for your reflection

Over the past month, I have given much thought to my own, personal feelings towards Pope Benedict. I am now confessing to you, the People of God, that I have been sinful in my own eyes and according to my interpretation of Jesus' words :"If you call any man 'thou fool', it is as if you commit murder".

I have come to believe that Pope Benedict is acting in accordance with his personal conscience, and since we are demanding the right to obey our own personal consciences, then we must surely, equally demand such a right for His Holiness.

I have to accept that Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope by the College of Cardinals with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and that She had a reason to select him. I acknowledge that many of us do not respond to our vocation from God, and go off on our own path instead of that chosen for us. I do not know if Pope Benedict is failing to respond to the vocation he was given in his holy office, or if he is indeed doing God's will. I certainly know that it is not for me to judge him ("Judge not that ye be not judged"). I do believe that there are things happening in the Vatican (and at the Vatican Bank) that are not right, but the rest of the world (secular and ecclesiastical) knows this.

So, I have come to accept that Pope Benedict believes that he is doing what he perceives to be right. In such a case, I do not believe that we can make demands of him, since this will merely cause him to defend his position, and, after all, he is an acknowledged professor of theology and I am not.

What we can do is put forward what we believe - after due consideration, prayer and meditation - to be the right way forward for the Church, and attempt to persuade those in authority of the rightness of our arguments. At our press conference, we should set out our beliefs, including our belief that we have the right to be heard, and call upon His Holiness the Pope to enter into full and equal dialogue with us on resolving any differences.

What do we believe to be right?

We believe that God created and loves all humankind equally, and that Jesus died for all (not many) so that we may be reconciled with His Father, if we so choose. (I also believe that other religions are used by the Holy Spirit to achieve this same reconciliation, but I do not know if any of you, my dear brethren, believe this, so I exclude it from my argument for the time being.)

We believe that all men and women are equal before God, whatever their beliefs, their sexual orientation, their choice of lifestyle.

We believe that those who have married but then divorced, or been divorced, and remarried are also equal.

And, since all mankind is equal, every individual man or woman is entitled to take part in all the sacraments of the Church, including the Holy Eucharist and the taking of Holy Orders, whether as a Religious Brother or Sister, as a Permanent Deacon or as a Priest (and from there into the Bishopric and Hierarchy).

We believe that, since all men and women are equal, the voices of the laity - the People of God - should be heard equally with the voices of the clergy and hierarchy in the councils and decision-making of the Church.

These are our honest beliefs, and we do not want merely to be told that His Holiness does not agree with us so we must accept his diktat. We want him to explain why he disagrees with us, and we want him to listen to our arguments and give them as much consideration, prayer and meditation as we have given them.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Learn from the past!

Last Saturday I went to the National Theatre in London to see a performance of Antigone by Sophocles, translated by Don Taylor.   I could not avoid seeing the relevance to the current situation we face in the Church today.   The whole play is a warning to those who place themselves and political power over their duty to 'love and serve God' and to "act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with God" (Micah 6).

The following line thrown at King Creon by his son, Haemon, is a warning to us all in the Catholic Church,
When the State becomes one man it ceases to be a State!
 For 'State' read 'Church', 'Community', 'Society' ...

In an article in Spiegel On Line International Fiona Ehlers, Alexander Smoltczyk and Peter Wensierski write,
A "reform of the Curia" is probably a contradiction in terms. Its hierarchical, essentially medieval organizational model is incompatible with modern management. The Vatican is an anachronistic, albeit surprisingly tenacious system, in which pecking orders and an absurd penchant for secrecy and intrigue prevail. "The only important thing is proximity to the monarch," says a member of a cardinal's staff. Rome works like an absolutist court, one in which decisions are made by people whispering things into the others' ears rather than by committees. "There are many vain people here, people in sharp competition with one another," the staff member adds.
Like Antigone it is time for men and women who love their Church and their faith to stand up for the Constitutions and Decrees of Vatican II before tragedy strikes the Body of Christ.    Get a group together in your parish to read and reflect upon them.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Is Church reform possible any longer?

It is a very sad day for our community of faith when someone who has a wide knowledge of the Church and contact with theologians, commentators and pastors around the world is compelled to write the following.

"I am honestly totally skeptical that reform is possible within the Catholic Church any longer.
The chief impediment is the forces in the psyches of the small element in society who need certitude in their lives more than they need their breakfast each day.
What is happening in the Catholic Church at the moment bears this out more and more with each passing week. No one can communicate with these people, they are certain they alone can read the mind of Almighty God, and if anyone dares to take them on it is something to be likened to Jesus himself taking on the scribes and pharisees. In the end you simply cannot win.
Is that not what the essential message Jesus was trying to communicate in all his missives about dealing with the pharisaical element in society?"
Brian Coyne, editor and publisher of Catholica

 It is time for all Catholics who want an institution that respects the views of those who took part in the last General Council of the Church (Vatican II) to stand up and speak out for dialogue over issues that are sucking the life and health out of our Church.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Real food or just imagined food?

Elizabeth has called our attention to a news-story this week which had the headline, "Benedict reaches out to the divorced and remarried" " telling them to make a Spiritual Communion and bear their suffering.

She asks why no-one had seen this notion as a clever solution to the world's starving, to tell them to imagine they are eating and all will be well etc etc!

What would Jesus say and do? 

The origin of the news story can be found in  Pope Benedict's address on 2nd June 2012 to the 7th. World Meeting of Families in Milan in a question and answer session.

" THE ARAUJO FAMILY (a Brazilian family from Porto Alegre)

 MARIA MARTA: Holy Father, in our country, just as in the rest of the world, marriage breakdowns are continually increasing. My name is Maria Marta and this is Manoel Angelo. We have been married for 34 years and we are now grandparents. As a doctor and a family psychotherapist, we meet a great many families and we notice that couples in difficulties are finding it harder and harder to forgive and to accept forgiveness. We often encounter the desire and the will to establish a new partnership, something lasting, for the benefit of the children born from this second union.

 MANOEL ANGELO: Some of these remarried couples would like to be reconciled with the Church, but when they see that they are refused the sacraments they are greatly discouraged. They feel excluded, marked by a judgement against which no appeal is possible. These sufferings cause deep hurt to those involved. Their wounds also afflict the world and they become our wounds, the wounds of the whole human race. Holy Father we know that the Church cares deeply about these situations and these people. What can we say to them and what signs of hope can we offer them?

 THE HOLY FATHER: Dear friends, thank you for your very important work as family psychotherapists. Thank you for all that you do to help these suffering people. Indeed the problem of divorced and remarried persons is one of the great sufferings of today’s Church. And we do not have simple solutions. Their suffering is great and yet we can only help parishes and individuals to assist these people to bear the pain of divorce. I would say, obviously, that prevention is very important, so that those who fall in love are helped from the very beginning to make a deep and mature commitment. Then accompaniment during married life is needed, so that families are never left on their own but are truly accompanied on their journey. As regards these people - as you have said - the Church loves them, but it is important they should see and feel this love. I see here a great task for a parish, a Catholic community, to do whatever is possible to help them to feel loved and accepted, to feel that they are not “excluded” even though they cannot receive absolution or the Eucharist; they should see that, in this state too, they are fully a part of the Church. Perhaps, even if it is not possible to receive absolution in Confession, they can nevertheless have ongoing contact with a priest, with a spiritual guide. This is very important, so that they see that they are accompanied and guided. Then it is also very important that they truly realize they are participating in the Eucharist if they enter into a real communion with the Body of Christ. Even without “corporal” reception of the sacrament, they can be spiritually united to Christ in his Body. Bringing them to understand this is important: so that they find a way to live the life of faith based upon the Word of God and the communion of the Church, and that they come to see their suffering as a gift to the Church, because it helps others by defending the stability of love and marriage. They need to realize that this suffering is not just a physical or psychological pain, but something that is experienced within the Church community for the sake of the great values of our faith. I am convinced that their suffering, if truly accepted from within, is a gift to the Church. They need to know this, to realize that this is their way of serving the Church, that they are in the heart of the Church. Thank you for your commitment."

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Archbishop of Canterbury's video on The Queen's Diamond Jubilee

Speaking in a short film produced by Lambeth Palace, the Archbishop of Canterbury talks about The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the significance of the 60 year reign ‘in which nationally and internationally so much has shifted’.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

A Child's eye view

The great thing about being a Catholic is that there is humour.   Thanks, Ted, for passing on this story.

Until a child tells you what they are thinking, we can't even begin to imagine how their mind is working.

Little Zachary was doing very badly in math. His parents had tried everything - tutors, mentors, flash cards, special learning centres. In short, everything they could think of to help his math.

Finally, in a last ditch effort, they took Zachary down and enrolled him in the local Catholic school. After the first day, little Zachary came home with a very serious look on his face. He didn't even kiss his mother hello.  Instead, he went straight to his room and started studying.Books and papers were spread out all over the room and little Zachary was hard at work. His mother was amazed. She called him down to dinner. To her shock, the minute he was done, he marched back to his room without a word, and in no time, he was back hitting the books as hard as before.

This went on for some time, day after day, while the mother tried to understand what made all the difference.

Finally, little Zachary brought home his report card. He quietly laid it on the table, went up to his room and hit the books. With great trepidation, his Mom looked at it and to her great surprise, Little Zachary got an 'A' in math.

She could no longer hold her curiosity. She went to his room and said,  'Son, what was it? Was it the nuns?'

Little Zachary looked at her and shook his head, no.

'Well, then,' she replied, 'Was it the  books, the discipline, the structure, the uniforms? WHAT WAS IT?'

 Little Zachary looked at her and said, 'Well, on the first day of school when I saw that guy nailed to the plus sign, I knew they weren't fooling around.'

Have a wonderful day and God Bless.

Sunday, 27 May 2012


Thank you to Catholica and John Chuchman for today's reflection

We have long heard the word "obedience" bandied about in Catholicism. John Chuchman's reflection today attempts an examination of what an enlightened believer might make of the meaning of this word. We are all called to various forms of obedience in our lives: to the laws of the land, to the laws of science, to the methodologies of communication if we want to be effective communicators. What does obedience mean in a religious and spiritual context?
To Obey
The word Obedience
comes from the root audire
to hear.

in its essence,
Listening followed by Acting Freely
(not simply doing what another tells me).

time and again,
is quoted as
calling us to Listen.

It seems there are a number of areas
in my life
to which I must be tuned in.

I try to listen to
the wild word of God
as presented in Scripture,
hoping it warms my heart
and pierces it
with Love.

I try to listen to
as defined in Vatican II
as We, the Body of Christ,
men and women of all denominations and faiths
whose judgment I respect.

I try to listen to
who speak their Truth,
knowing I can learn from them,
also Children of God.

I try to listen to
the signs of the times,
the voice of social change
in society,
knowing human experience to be
the very stuff of Spirituality.

I try to listen to
Children, The Handicapped, The Sick,
The Dying, The Bereaved, The Aged

by tapping in to their
directness and simplicity
which offer a special access
to Truth.

I try to listen to
The Word of God in My Heart,
guided by conscience,
motivated by the promptings of
the Holy Spirit.

Simply doing as I am told
by whatever authority,
without Listening
to all possible sources of Wisdom,
is spiritual death.

I can
live and act with Wisdom
if I heed the call of Jesus

Love, John Chuchman

This reflection is also published on John Chuchman's blog.
The background used to support John Chuchman's reflection has been sourced from stock.xchng one of the sources for free images on the net provided by people who voluntarily upload their work for others to share. Daniel Cubillas who is located in Spain provided today's image. A gallery of Daniel's freely available images can be found at: The image used in the headline is sourced from the ex-christian net website:

Thursday, 17 May 2012

 thank you to Tony and Catholica for this

Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord B
May 20, 2012

Reading 1 (in part)
When they had gathered together they asked him,
"Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"
He answered them, "It is not for you to know the times or seasons
that the Father has established by his own authority.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
throughout Judea and Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth."
When he had said this, as they were looking on,
he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.
While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going...
Gospel (in part)
So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them,
was taken up into heaven
and took his seat at the right hand of God.
But they went forth and preached everywhere,
while the Lord worked with them
and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.

Well, of course it's a myth: it's not space travel. Our job is to find the purpose of the myth, the 'truth' that is taught in this symbolic story of The Lord being taken up into heaven and being seated at the right hand of God, as Mark tells it. Luke (first reading) says that he was lifted up before their eyes and a cloud took him from their sight, leaving them gaping into an empty sky.
We have four elements in these accounts:
(1) Jesus was taken up or lifted up: If we discount any implication of him moving bodily through the upper atmosphere and finally to outer space, the statement simply means that he has left this earth, he has 'gone away'. John's account of the Last Supper has Jesus saying more than once that he was about to go away.
(2) A cloud took him from their sight: Not any old cloud passing through the sky, but the cloud that throughout the Bible is a symbol of God's presence. We've all had the experience of climbing a mountain only to be swallowed up in the mist. In a cloud you can see nothing; the mystery we call 'god' is beyond our knowing. And the writer is saying only that when Jesus went away he was in god.

(3) Mark adds that Jesus took his seat at the right hand of God: The reference to the vision of the prophet Daniel is found in all four gospels in different places, and therefore seems to be a lynch-pin in the self-awareness of Jesus:
I gazed into the visions of the night. And I saw, coming with the clouds of heaven, one like a son of man. He came to the one of great age and was led into his presence. On him was conferred sovereignty, glory and kingship, and [...] all people, nations and languages became his servants. His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty which shall never pass away, nor will his empire ever be destroyed. (Dan 7:13,14. Jerusalem Bible)
(4) Finally, there is the promise of the Holy Spirit with references to the power of the spirit that animated the apostles as they went forth and preached everywhere.
In short, the ascension is the watershed of history, the moment when Jesus of Nazareth 'goes away' and the time of the spirit begins.
John explained this in the words he placed on Jesus' lips after the supper: But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. (Jn 16:7)
Unless I go the Advocate will not come. Why not? This is not just a changing of the guard. There is some kind of mystery here because John puts the same idea in three or four different ways, and in the ascension narrative Luke gives us two sides of the coin: the going away of Jesus on one side and on the other side, inseparable but different, the coming of the spirit.
I can only think that this points to two quite different phases of the great mystery. Jesus lived among us and taught by word and example until they closed ranks against him and killed him. This phase has to be considered as over, finished, closed, in order for the next phase to begin. The new phase is totally different. It is the real one for which the other was only the preparation. This is the real baptism, the moment of new birth. Jesus of Nazareth lived and worked in the old order: now the old order is closed and the new order begins. The act of creation is completed by the outpouring of the spirit, the power of god is unleashed to make all things new.
Is this just theological speculation, or has it some practical dimension? The question in my mind is whether we have got our view correctly adjusted. Jesus has gone away; this is the age of the spirit.

There is a fashion among us to ask: What would Jesus do in this situation? Through the past week there has been some speculation concerning the things we don't know about Jesus of Nazareth. There's nothing wrong with wondering, provided we make sure our attention is not taken from the present situation of our lives and the challenges we face, the problems we have to resolve with the teaching of the gospel to guide us and the power of the spirit to enable us, and our own brains to do the work. Jesus will not be coming back to do it for us. In fact, I wonder is it useful to hark back to his time on earth, re-creating his life in books and films, visiting the places where he walked, looking to capture something of his aura, seeking to enhance our awareness of his days among us. The point of the 'ascension' is that all that is over. Now we are in the age of the spirit. What does this mean?
For a start, according to Jesus, it is better: "It is better for you that I go." Somehow we are better off relating to the spirit than focussing on Jesus of Nazareth, constrained by all the limitations of time and place, of language and custom that occur when we try to see him in his own setting.
The goal is spelled out in the gospels along with the attitudes that are required to achieve it. What else is needed, other than our commitment, us getting stuck into it, saying what needs to be said, doing what has to be done, risking our lives to save others, working in the spirit.
The new creation comes to life at the spirit's breath; the new covenant begins to be realised with people opening their minds and hearts to undreamed of possibilities, and daring to think, to say, and to do what is true and just.
Both selections from the letter to the Ephesians provided for the second reading are to be read as poetry, letting the images enliven the imagination and inspire the heart,

"until we all attain to the unity of faith [trust/commitment]
and knowledge of the Son of God,
to mature to manhood,
to the extent of the full stature of Christ."

There are many loose ends hanging off this memorial of the ascension. Some of them might raise a comment or two...
"Fully mature with the fullness of Christ himself."
Tony Lawless
On Ascension Thursday I found an email in my in-box from the British Jesuit magazine Thinking Faith, with an article on the ascension. It is a long article but well worth a read.
The author found understanding and inspiration through the thoughts of Ignatius of Loyola who saw the Ascension as the turning point of history precisely because in this 'event' Jesus of Nazareth was installed as King of the Universe. I'm afraid that part of the article left me cold since for me to adopt Ignatius' attitude to kings would be to substitute one myth for another.

"A post is a free gift, and it will go where it pleases."'