Faith and reason, same-sex relationships and blessings

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In 1998, Pope John Paul II, a philosopher as well as a theologian, promulgated an encyclical entitled Fides et Ratio (‘Faith and Reason’). It had appeal to me because our very wise Jesuit moral theology professor always drummed into us that any pronouncements on moral theology from Rome must appeal to reason as well as to tradition and authority. Otherwise, they will have no currency with the people of God.

Priest blessing the faithful (Lucas Ninna/Getty Images)

The opening line of John Paul’s encyclical is memorable: ‘Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth.’

The recent pronouncement by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) on the blessing of same-sex unions certainly had people assessing its reasonableness as a so-called ‘deposit of faith’.

In our Parliament, we are familiar with ‘questions without notice’. These are raised to challenge a minister, or to give one’s own minister an opportunity to engage in some virtue signalling. So the Roman Congregation often raises a hypothetical question, a dubium, (proposed by anyone or no one) and then answers it with a responsum. In this case the question was: Does the Church have the power to give a blessing to unions of persons of the same sex? And it answered, not unexpectedly, in the negative.

The question, suggested the Congregation, has arisen from the pastoral practice of some priests blessing the civil unions of same-sex couples. This is currently not uncommon.

 

'If I bless a person, it is a prayer that they will share God’s life, God’s grace, and advance the kingdom in all they do.'

 

The Congregation indicated that a blessing is a sacramental  (something less than a sacrament) and when conferred ‘on particular human relationships, in addition to the right intention of those who participate, it is necessary that what is blessed be objectively and positively ordered to receive and express grace, according to the designs of God inscribed in creation, and fully revealed by Christ the Lord.’ A rather complex definition of a blessing.

Originally, things were blessed when they were marked out to be put to God’s service. In the Jewish tradition, for example, objects for use in Temple worship were so blessed and dedicated for such service. If I am asked to bless a house or a car, I stress that the action is not a superstition or a spiritual insurance policy. It is a prayer that the house or car will be used for the advancement of God’s Kingdom here and now, and that the occupiers or owners will be people of virtue and values. When I bless a crucifix for a boy leaving Aloysius' it is to mark it out as a sign of a life spent totally in the service of others, for the good. It is ‘holy’ because the young man might look upon it and be reminded of such a life to be emulated.

If I bless a person, it is a prayer that they will share God’s life, God’s grace, and advance the kingdom in all they do. Recently, I was invited to bless the squad for the CAS Swimming and Diving Championships. It was a prayer for them to compete with all those human and sporting values we espouse here, and for them to be free and graced to swim their best.

The response to the dubium suggested that blessings are permitted of ‘individual persons with homosexual inclinations, who manifest the will to live in fidelity to the revealed plans of God as proposed by Church teaching’. Only for someone whose life is ‘recognised as objectively ordered’. That is, who are gay and chaste.

But this opens a minefield of reasonable considerations.

First of all, and in a broader consideration, there are many priests I know who also bless heterosexual couples who are married civilly. Some priests participate in the ceremony alongside the civil celebrant. These may be relationships that involve a second marriage by the Catholic party. Their first marriage may not have been annulled because the one divorced could not prove a deficiency in the external forum — that is, before the Marriage Tribunal. But they know in the internal forum — in the integrity of their conscience — that they are in good standing before God. Therefore, while their relationship might be labelled as ‘objectively disordered’ the priest takes them at their word, as acting subjectively at rights with God, and offers a blessing accordingly. Are such blessings now similarly precluded?

But, increasingly, people do not see such same-sex relationships as ‘disordered’. Certainly, this is not part of the language of the students at this College. Nearly two-thirds of Australians voted with a similar perspective in the same-sex marriage ballot four years ago.

Now more than 200 German professors of theology have signed a statement criticising the CDF’s responsum, claiming it is lacking ‘theological depth, hermeneutical understanding, and explanatory rigor.’ They went on to say that ‘The text is characterized by a paternalistic gesture of superiority and discriminates against homosexual people and their life plans.’ Austrian Cardinal Schönborn is the latest of more than a dozen German-speaking bishops similarly critical.

The responsum argues that same-sex relationships are not ‘according to the designs of God inscribed in creation, and fully revealed by Christ the Lord’. This line of argument draws from one school of Natural Law theory, which suggests that you can read from nature the way to act morally. This physicalist model has its limitations. It limits moral argumentation to anatomy. It is about plumbing more than relationships. The physicalist model might also suggest that men are more physical and powerful than women and therefore are naturally superior, so women should therefore be submissive. A model of very narrow perspectives.

But the more contemporary ‘school of reason’ branch of Natural Law theory is based on the understanding that reason reflecting on human experience – that is, on what it is to be human – is a much richer source of moral assessment. It invites one to consider what is humanly relational, rather than simply to consult Gray’s Anatomy.

There are many people who live in a same-sex relationship, who do so monogamously, lovingly and permanently. Indeed, they find God in the relationship. For them there is no disorder. The Congregation might suggest such a couple are ‘not open to the transmission of life’. But they are no less open to such life transmission than a post-menopausal woman who can be legitimately married and blessed in the Church.

And what of a priest celebrating a Sunday Eucharist where, in the congregation, there are known to be second marriages which are ‘irregular unions’, where heterosexual couples are unmarried and cohabiting (and not ‘as brother and sister’), where there are same-sex couples committed to a life together (in civil unions or otherwise)? Is the priest to offer them Communion (a much more significant Sacrament than a sacramental blessing) when they approach the altar. And if he does, does God come to those communicants in their relationship?

The Congregation’s document encouragingly reminds us that God ‘never ceases to bless each of His pilgrim children in the world’ and ‘takes us where we are, but never leaves us where we are’. We rejoice in that. But it underscores that God ‘does not and cannot bless sin’. True. But the underlying question takes us beyond a physicalist notion of natural law which narrowly points to an objective sin. 

It invites us to consider the relationship of a couple — same-sex, divorced and remarried, or otherwise — standing before God, joining faith and reason, in the sanctuary of their conscience and finding God in the relationship.

Some Vatican commentators suggested that the Congregation's document was drafted by a much smaller group of members than normal, and then rushed for the Pope to sign before leaving for the critical visit to Iraq. But then, on his return, a week ago, Francis gave a very pastoral address in Rome. Again, commentators suggest it was a softening or even a correction of the style of the responsum. The Pope spoke of witnessing ‘by a life that takes upon itself the style of God: closeness, compassion and tenderness.’

This, he said, ‘means sowing seeds of love, not with fleeting words but through concrete, simple and courageous examples; not with theoretical condemnations but with gestures of love.’

He added ‘then the Lord, with his grace, makes us bear fruit, even when the soil is dry due to misunderstandings, difficulty or persecution or claims of legalism or clerical moralism.’ Francis concluded by again underscoring the phrase ‘the style of God: closeness, compassion and tenderness.’ The Easter life-giving God.

Considering that, might we be generous enough to allow God to choose whether or not his blessing might be imparted and find a home?

 


Fr Ross Jones SJ is the rector at St Aloysius'. This article was originally published in The Gonzagan. 

Main image: Priest blessing the faithful (Lucas Ninna/Getty Images)

Topic tags: Ross Jones, same-sex relationships, blessings, faith and reason, Pope Francis, Pope John Paul II

 

 

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Creation of an opposition between "a physicalist model" and a "more contemporary school of reason" in the understanding of natural law morality seems confected and insupportable: it encourages a Platonic dualism between body and soul alien to Catholic teaching which holds the relationship between the two to be organic. Further, a foundational tenet of "the order of creation" revealed in sacred scripture and harmonious with reason is the union between a male and a female which Christ and the Church recognise sacramentally as marriage. How, specifically, does the unreferenced "more contemporary school of reason", posited as authoritative, override this teaching and its status? And again, should not matters that properly belong in "the internal forum", by definition, remain just there?


John RD | 06 April 2021  

Yes who does the blessing, who give the grace? The Church says nothing when it says it does not have the power to bless or ordain. The Church asks God to bless and invokes Son and Spirit. Who is the Church to decide what God has inscribed in creation or to say when the Lord has fully revealed his message; as far as I know the work of the Holy Spirit is ongoing. Indeed there is much for us to learn as a Church. Surely the abuse of children and its cover-up is not in line with God's design and yet the offending priests were sent back out into parishes to bless congregations and continue to abuse. No, we do not expect God to bless sin but we are called to bless the sinner, particularly when they promised to love in the best way they can. The couples are promising to be faithful, unto each other and asking all those around them to support them in their fidelity. The Church was given a mission to baptize all people, not to exclude, anyone. Are they saying we can't or we don't want to? Are they embarrassed by their own internal behavior. If they are trying to recover their status as our moral compass, they are continuing to fail and all the world is watching.


Martin Nicol | 06 April 2021  

'God Love You' for this tender, unfurling and well laid out deconstruction, Ross Jones. I, for one, had hitherto tended to critique Natural Law, almost to the point of its rejection, through use of Jerome Toner's book on the Naturalistic Fallacy. While such a position somewhat jeopardized for me my strong commitment to Catholic Social Teaching, so much of which is reliant upon the Natural Law for its exposition, Fr Toner's status as a learned Dominican (like Aquinas of yore) offered some succour to me in my situation of also being a Gay Catholic. I am now able to identify, subject to the insight of a learned Jesuit, not only a way forward to be blessed in love, but also to unreservedly support and embrace St Thomas's view, which I now appreciate as much more nuanced and less biologistic than certain proponents of the Natural Law prefer to portray.


Michael Furtado | 06 April 2021  

Hello Fr Jones: as you may know from your scientific education the two titans of 20th century physics Bohr and Einstein drew swords over the meaning of quantum mechanics. Nine decades later the great debate continues at the forefront of physics research. Bell inequalities violation supports the consensus that Bohr won. Some dissents argue that Bell experiments prove nothing. If Einstein did lose the physics debate the great man won the quotable quote “God does not play dice”. But I prefer Bohr’s answer “Don’t tell God what to do”. I am not a theologian, after brainwashing school at the Christian Brothers in the late 60’s, I joined the exodus, but I did read your article with great interest (as they say). I have been left wondering: should the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith not take Bohr’s advice; maybe?


Fosco | 06 April 2021  

How blessed are the students at Aloysius College & their parents to have Fr Ross Jones as the school Rector. I suspect that most of the dubia to which the CDF responds are Dorothy Dixers. They provide a pretext for raising Curial questions that hardliners use to challenge more liberal or progressive views. For them Moral Theology is as constrained by principles as rigid as Theorems in Euclidean Geometry. Father Jones has shown great pastoral concern for his students & their parents. He has put before them more nuanced ideas on what it means to invoke God's blessing on a same-sex union. Should make for lively discussion round the dinner table. After we've asked God to bless us & the gifts we're about to receive through Christ Our Lord. Amen.


Uncle Pat | 06 April 2021  

Is it really sufficient or accurate to define a blessing simply as a prayer for the good intention of person, or to estimate the value of a blessing simply in terms of one's subjective disposition towards whatever is blessed? Since, as a sacramental, it is an active sign and means of conveying God's favour, does not a priest's blessing confer an objectively graced status on its recipient - not a 'spiritual insurance policy' but a divine efficacy and assurance of God's pleasure and approval? If so, how, if it is to be other than a placebo, can a union that is not recognised by the Church as marriage, be received and dignified at the hands of a priest as favoured and acceptable in God's eyes?


John RD | 07 April 2021  

It's reasonable to assume that many militant atheists have been and continue to be good samaritans. Good can be done without God (leaving aside the divine permissive will). But, so what? The intention to do good without God is idolatry of self and contradicts the first commandment. Most of this article seems to advocate that the Church enables idolatry of self.


roy chen yee | 07 April 2021  

From Scripture we learn something we already know instinctively -God is love (1 John).This gives us confidence to love God in response and to love others. This article is about blessing people who love others. And about affirming to young people in particular that love is not confined to a particular group in society, a really inspiring message. I hope the swimmers and divers did well.


Pam | 07 April 2021  

Thank you Father Ross for your commentary on the "guidance" given by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith requiring a ban on the practice of Blessings being given by some Priests of same sex relationships. Your explanation of "Blessings' was very informative. Apart from the hurt the proclamation will have caused some same sex couples , to judge interpersonal relationships in purely biological rather than relational perspectives , continues the misunderstanding of early church theologians , such as Augustine, and Aquinas whose knowledge of human reproduction was flawed by ignorance of the biological process and nature of human relationships. They condemned anything other than chaste heterosexual relations as 'offending against nature' and God's design. In the light of advancing medical and psychological knowledge, the Congregation needs to take such knowledge into account when addressing the issue of Blessing of such relationships. In the end who are we to judge a couple's commitment when only God knows.


Gavin O'Brien | 07 April 2021  

Bless you Michael !


Ginger Meggs | 07 April 2021  

In my memory the Catholic Church consigned unbaptized babies to a nether region of their construction called limbo. I wont comment on the Church's acceptance and blessing of same sex unions, other than to say thank you Martin for your comment.


K.G.T. | 07 April 2021  

Same-sex marriage supporters, among them regular contributors to "Eureka Street", despite claims prior to legal recognition of the cause that the achievement of their objective would see no further demands, now press for more: the Church's blessing is sought for a union its participants know does not accord with the Catholic understanding of marriage. With the issue of blessing, momentum for the Church to conform its definition and teaching on marriage to that of the secular State, is evidently, at least in some quarters, well under way. All, as Fr Ross Jones affirms, are entitled to prayer on their behalf. However, a blessing is more than a prayer: it is a sign of God's favour; in this case, seeking to be bestowed upon a union which the Church does not recognise as marriage. With what validity and authority does a priest who consents to bestow it do so? And where does it leave Catholic parents whose responsibility it is to instruct their children on matters of sexuality in a society where, increasingly, the discounting of biology's part in moral and social understanding is almost religiously urged ?


John RD | 08 April 2021  

Fr Ross Jones, are you insinuating Peter should raise the Rainbow flag at the Pearly Gates? I see St Aloysius is a boys only school with the motto "Dedicated to forming men for others in the Jesuit tradition" "At St Aloysius’ College your son has the opportunity to follow his interests, develop his strengths, nurture his talents, learn about the world around him and share his privilege with others. " What about learning about girls? These same sex elitist schools breed an unhealthy emotional environment and should become co educational and accept an equal number of girls. Then this tacit quiet endorsement of same sex relationships wont be top of mind all the time. When all the world is rushing In the loud throng - And they decry loudly, who’s right, who’s wrong; Lift up your head and see Your Saviour’s Eyes; You might be able to Discern their lies. Jesus was popular - For a short while; Crowds round him pressed and pled. They liked his style; But when, in His final days, push came to shove Only a very few, could show Him Love.


Francis Armstrong | 08 April 2021  

Permit me some responsa to John RD … I am no dualist. But ‘reading from nature’ without any reflection is rather risky. To an unreflective observer, Nature seems “red in tooth and claw” (quoting Tennyson) and might lead one falsely and fatalistically to accept our lot as a brutal survival of the fittest. I am glad (and blessed) to be able to reason otherwise about human nature and choose to live differently. If some find “the order of creation” entirely “harmonious with reason”, then I respect that. But, increasingly, many cannot always do so. Just to be clear, I am not arguing here for a same-sex union to be regarded as a sacrament. That is another issue. Suffice it to say that there can be life-commitments before God which are not sacraments, but are nevertheless blessed – as is the case with religious vows. Blessings can be given outside sacraments. As for “what is revealed in sacred scripture” concerning homosexuality, current biblical scholars of note are rather less absolutist and much more nuanced about this than in the past. The difference between a school of reason approach and a physicalist model is seen clearly in the style of the Church’s teaching documents. The social justice statements are drawn largely from reasoned reflection on scripture, the dignity of the person, and on what it is to be human. And they are embraced by people with enthusiasm. Those to do with sexuality usually start from the other approach. Too often they do not stand up to the test of reason, fall short of the sensus fidelium, and are unheeded. 'Humanae Vitae' on birth control is a case in point. The vitriolic and homophobic language of the CDF’s 'Persona Humana' (‘pathological’, ‘depravity’, ‘intrinsically disordered’) is another. As for the internal forum, I see no reason why a decision reached in conscience should “remain just there”. Vatican II’s document, 'Dignitatis Humanae' makes it clear that “A person must not be forced to act contrary to his/her conscience. Nor must he/she be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters.” The repeated liberating word here is “act” – not to crouch in a corner nursing some sort of internalised feeling. A decision properly made in conscience gives one a freedom to act.


Ross Jones | 08 April 2021  

Thanks, Ross, for saying so well what needed to be said - we need you in the Roman Curia.


Peter Johnstone | 08 April 2021  

Fr Jones, allow me to be physicalist, or perhaps just anti-Manichaean. The marital act, as understood in Catholic moral theology and canon law, consists of the penetration by the male member of the woman’s “vessel” and the deposition of semen into that “vas debitum”. No penetration, no marital act. No deposition, no marital act. Penetration and deposition: voila! Your citing of the case of an infertile woman’s capability of marriage makes me wonder if you are aware that whether the man or woman is sterile in Christian tradition and natural law has nothing to do with the metaphysical status of that act. The act is of itself open to the generation of new life, regardless as to the circumstantial fertility or lack thereof of either or both partners. But being of themselves open to the generation of new life simply cannot be the case with homosexual genital acts, for obvious reasons. So no genital act between same sex couples can be a marital act. If you and two hundred wacky German theologians want to redefine marital acts so that same-sex acts count as such, and so same-sex couples can be truly married, well go ahead and try. That crazy proposition may go down well with an Australian populace that is also happy with unrestricted abortion and so on. But let’s not pretend that this is what God was angling at all through the Old and New Testaments, or that Our Lord would have been guided by a majority sentiment on this, or any other issue.


HH | 08 April 2021  

The Vatican rightly dictates that it's forbidden to reinterpret scriptures from a modernist perspective to paint "The Jews" in a bad light. That would of course lead to their persecution..... Western society ignored that teaching, and the holocaust followed. Certain factions interpreted scriptures in a modern light and concluded Jews were evil even though Jesus himself was a Jew. In the same way, section of modern society (the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and Evangelical/Fundamentalist Christians) are misinterpreting ancient scriptures on Sodom and Gomorroh and others in the New Testament to conclude that God condemns consensual sexual relationships. The ancient scriptures were referring to sexual slavery and bondage and abuse. There is no comparison.


AURELIUS | 08 April 2021  

RoyChenChee, it's not the INTENTION to do good that matters....... but the objective good of the action carried out! Whether God can read our unspoken thoughts or not is irrelevant. What sort of benign God would advocate good intentions but evil outcomes based on some sort of ideological dogma?


MARCUS | 08 April 2021  

Our current "Woke” society may not view “same-sex relationships as ‘disordered’” and “200 German professors of theology” may dissent from Church teaching. But through the ages the Church has often rejected Vox Populi, Vox Dei (the voice of the people is the voice of God) So it was interesting to read last month, that the English, gay, provocateur, Milo Yiannipoulos, had announced he was now “ex-gay”, that he had embraced Catholicism and accepted the challenge of living a chaste life, and that he is now leading a daily consecration to St. Joseph. The “Woke” were overjoyed that someone critical of the Left had abandoned the same-sex category, but were furious that anyone could change their mind about a sexual preference, because that risked invalidating a central plank of their cause. One person condemned Milo stating, “he’s an ‘ex-gay’ which is not how it works since it’s not a choice, I would know because I’m gay.” Said Milo: “I wouldn’t dream of demanding that the Church throw away her hard truths just to lie to me in hopes I’ll feel better about myself. I love the truth, not lies, and I know no one’s feelings are the basis of truth.”


Ross Howard | 08 April 2021  

So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. Romans 9: 16. All depends only and exclusively on God's Mercy towards us.


AO | 09 April 2021  

There is much to applaud in Ross Jones' reflection : he has provided a sensitive, succinct and scholarly acute expose. Imbued in his treatment is an awareness that catholic moral theology has its point of departure where grace greets nature – often in circumstances of confusion and ambiguity. He provides a timely reminder that there are priests who take seriously their call and commission to be ministers of Word and Sacraments. In so doing, their efforts of shepherding may be forgiven if they give a priority to Jesus injunctions such as Mt 11:28-30 and Lk 11:11, rather than reach for the latest CDF rescript. Remembering that God is the wellspring of all blessings – his bounty may well offer a generosity the rule book is yet to realise.


Bill Burke | 09 April 2021  

A nuanced discussion well focused .Like the question of usury in the Middle Ages and later in relation to money and interest as a sin so the church needs a discussion on sex and pleasure . Top marks to this discussion


Duff Terence Patrick | 09 April 2021  

Bless you too, Ginge, as indeed are all blessed who post here. As to JohnRD's question, Fr Jones' authority derives from his membership of Christ's Body, to which we all belong and who gave His Life for all. Secondarily, Ross Jones' sacramental calling to become a priest, and especially one graced by his membership of the Society of Jesus, an order committed to dispelling your view of a vindictive and parsimonious god who rations out his love by the coffee-spoonful, means that his position as Rector of a Boys' College requires him to mediate and explain a Roman Instruction that matters enormously to the youth in his care, all of whom, whether straight or gay, would be negotiating complex questions of human identity and moral behaviour as young men shortly to be unleashed into the world as educated and hopefully more than ordinarily well-informed adult Catholics. Thirdly, his brief as Rector is to lead the formation of those of them fortunate enough to be called to embrace the celibate life as priests and, hopefully, fellow Jesuits ministering to others. And, finally, if there are parents who misread his message, one has to wonder what the dickens are they doing there?


Michael Furtado | 09 April 2021  

Thank you for your beautiful words. Practice Mercy, Compassion and Love, we can’t go wrong.


Michael John Spencer | 09 April 2021  

Thank goodness for those words by Pope Francis on his return; he has restored my faith in him, at least.


Carla van Raay | 09 April 2021  

I'm not aware, Fr Ross, of any serious or official Catholic moral teaching "reading from nature without any reflection" - in fact, I'd go so far as to say that it's the reasoned, systematic development and depth of official Catholic moral teaching that is one of its main characteristics, even offensive to many of its detractors in a culture increasingly preoccupied with the sensate and material that settles for self-definition in these terms. Concerning nature, the well-known Tennysonian description of nature you cite is predominantly "physicalist"; however, it is not the the understanding of "nature" as understood metaphysically in the discourse of moral philosophy and theology that traditionally underpins Catholic teaching. Indeed, I suspect this mode of thinking and the authority with which it is promulgated are the real targets of currently alleged offensiveness and protest. Like you, I've no doubt there can be "life-commitments before God which are not sacraments but are nevertheless blessed." However, the "life-commitment' we're discussing here names and presents itself as "marriage" - a re-definition not accepted by the Church, making it a radical self-contradiction and defection were the Church, in God's name, to approve this union with the blessing of it. Now, it seems to me, "blessing", like marriage, is being re-defined in conformity with and subordination to supposedly popular demand and the authority of the State. Further, regarding the "order of creation", are you aware of Fr James Schall SJ's 2007 work "The Order of Things"? As Professor of Political Philosophy at Georgetown University for many years, his thinking on issues of social teaching and moral philosophy is thoroughly reasoned and representative of the Catholic tradition. Finally, I recognise as do you, Father, that language on the topic of human sexuality and relationships requires due sensitivity - but I don't consider the language of the Catechism or of the 1986 CDF's "Letter on the Pastoral care of Homosexual Persons" vitriolic or homophobic. On the contrary, their style is necessarily dispassionate, since matters of universal moral and social import are being addressed. Pope Francis, whose tolerance for ambiguity does not extend to recognising same-sex unions as marriage, and who, as recently as last month, approved the CDF's ruling on blessings, has spoken sympathetically and compassionately of homosexual persons, reminding us of our familial and pastoral responsibilities towards them - which do not include agreement with or approval of the identification of same-sex unions with the Catholic understanding of marriage.


John RD | 09 April 2021  

Ross Howard and HH both make important points about the fallibility and inadequacy of "vox populi" determination of Catholic teaching and practice. Consultation of the laity does not authorise transferral of episcopal and papal roles in adjudicating what constitutes the "sensus fidei fidelium". Some postings on this thread, regrettably, already reveal serious distortion of the Catholic understanding of conscience and the freely undertaken duties of priests. The unacceptability of a crudely 'majority' or 'democratic' approach to articulation of what is consistent with scripture and tradition in the Catholic Church is historically underlined in the Arian controversy of the 4th century A.D. However, the populist principle - whereby it was deemed by the monumental 4th-5th C scripture scholar and historian, St Jerome, that "The whole world had gone Arian" - and the falsehood and ecclesial division about Christ that it gave rise to - were theologically exposed and defeated thanks largely to the personal and saintly dedication of Athanasius to scripture and the faith of the Apostles, and to the knowable truth of these distinctively Catholic sources about the identity of Christ as both human and divine. Confused messages about Church authority, particularly about the respective roles of prelates, priests and laity in the Body of Christ, should, I believe, be factored into investigations of why those who abandon active affiliation with the Church today do so.


John RD | 10 April 2021  

The discussion and commentary here makes me wonder how the Creator who is reputedly perfect in all things managed to bugger up Homo sapiens, his alleged greatest creation, by installing the differentiating factor, gender, designed for no other apparent or scientific reason than to indicate a difference between individual human beings that would be his instrument for the automatic ongoing creation of his masterpiece. Inarguably a brilliant concept which allowed him a well earned rest and relieved him of the necessity to turn up repeatedly for innumerable aeons to repeat the clay modelling endeavour. With such brilliance in evidence how did he get gender so wrong ???? Surely some deep thinking theologian must have the answer - no doubt expressed in terms unintelligible to the common man - or is that woman ? - or person? - or straight? - or gay? - or don't know? - or funny? - or queer? - or etc? All so complicated when it should have been so simple.


john frawley | 10 April 2021  

John RD, blithering about the past wont fix the present ills that beset this collection of saints and sinners that inhabit the body of Christ, the Church. Anyone can comment on any aspect of the Catholic Church. It is not a preserve of Bishops, priests, academics or pseudo theologians. Invoking 4th century saints is not relevant to the current generation who have computers and I phones and access to a thousand times more knowledge in the push of a button than their predecessors. If Francis says priests are not to bless same sex marriage then so be it. The church has to move with the times. Not hide behind latin catch phrases and arcane nonsense like the pontifical secret and half baked canon law, nor use the confessional seal to evade the legislated law of the land. If the safety of children is to have any relevance post plenary council, then the crucifix wearing wolves in their black habits have to be weeded out by the Bishops. The Bible Defines Marriage as a Covenant: God sketched his original plan for marriage in Genesis 2:24 when one man (Adam) and one woman (Eve) united together to become one flesh: Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. ( Genesis 2:24, ESV).


Francis Armstrong | 10 April 2021  

John D – I wish to engage with elements of your comments lodged April 10: Perhaps you could expand on why you consider consulting the faithful amounts to a “transferral of episcopal and papal roles...” Secondly, you claim to detect “ serious distortion of the Catholic understanding of conscience and the freely undertaken duties of priests.” - I look forward to reading any supporting detail you lodge in support of this claim. I invite these clarifications – not as a prelude to tit for tat exchange – but as an integral element of the conversation ES makes available. In this vein, I have always found a few sentences from Peter Lombard's introduction to his Sentences worthy of attention for anyone labouring in theological fields. He says, “...we have dared to scale the difficult heights and to undertake a work beyond our strength... the immensity of the work terrifies us, the desire to make progress spurs us on, but the weakness of failure discourages us, and only the zeal for the house of God overcomes it.”


Bill Burke | 10 April 2021  

Hello John RD: as the Chairman can be misquoted to have said “religion is the fish which swims in the sea of the people”. And, for Catholicism in our beloved Europa and our much beloved country, stolen from First Nations People, it is a fish rapidly running out of water. The sea has moved; the fish hasn’t. I am proudly a son of the vox populi - centuries of Italian peasantry. My ancestors were illiterate and for scholars like you, may appear to have made no contribution to the much quoted Great Book Learning. Actually, they did. They provided the raw life experiences. The People have moved to a new country. And yes, there is a need for teachers. Anybody claiming to be one should be careful. A Masters in Theology from Tubingen University is not the required qualification. Rather, a journey through the dark night of our inner reality.


Fosco | 10 April 2021  

What an appalling, narrow-minded, male-dominating and, dare I say it, obscene, definition of the core essentials of marriage is that which HH gives us. No mention of love, commitment, mutual care and support, the nurturing of each other. No mention of growing-together, and growing, together. Nothing more than wham bam thank you ma'm, but not to worry because it's all 'metaphysical'.


Ginger Meggs | 10 April 2021  

So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. Romans 9: 16. All depends only and exclusively on God's Mercy towards us. As today, Divine Mercy Sunday tells us. Even if we live perfect Christian lives, John RD, all our efforts are as nil in the comparison to the Love Jesus has for us. We can never know the worthiness of another, as it is written ."He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, `God, have mercy on me, a sinner. ' "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." Luke 18 :9-14. Straight or gay or whatever. I have had the privilege to meet a most beautiful soul. And I have meet very many people in my life. My friend is a transgender male to female. My friend has a most beautiful loving soul, like no other I have ever meet. And for this reason. I am certain Jesus loves her infinitely. Because He has said: He who loves Me Best, Knows Me Best. And not he who knows Me Best, Loves Me Best.


AO | 11 April 2021  

Bill Burke: I've no objection to episcopal consultation of the laity; indeed, I regard it as necessary and valuable in the matter of clerical paedophilia. I accept Newman's distinction of roles within the Catholic faithful, and, with specific reference to your question, particularly the role of what Newman calls the "Ecclesia Docens" which Vatican II and the Catechism recognise as the Pope and bishops in communion with him. In my experience of the first stage of Plenary Council deliberations and acquaintance with a number of reformist group proposals I encountered opinions contrary to Church teaching, and in not a few cases, total dismissiveness of "the hierarchy's" magisterial mandate. I view conscience, as I've said in previous ES contributions, as a window on the natural law implanted in our nature by our God, our Maker - not, in other words, as an originator or inventor of the natural law that licenses us to re-define radically our created nature according to our preferences. To put it another way, I don't view conscience as a simply subjective.


John RD | 11 April 2021  

Francis Armstrong. In quoting the Bible reference to marriage, Francis, you have drawn attention to a very interesting and thought provoking word, viz, COVENANT. In English usage "covenant" is sometimes loosely equated with "contract" a supposed synonym that lessens its true meaning and hence its impact for those who engage in the covenant of marriage. The meaning of covenant is, "... a solemn agreement held to be the basis of a relationship with God..." (ref: Concise Oxford English Dictionary) and is indissoluble by man ('What God has put together let no man put asunder"). The covenant thus differs from a contract which is a civil agreement between two people to which God is not a signatory and can be dissolved for any one of a number of predefined reasons. In Christian marriage these two components are partners, although uneasy bedfellows, in that formal marriage embodies both the sacramental covenant with God and the contract between the wedding partners which defines their relationship under the civil law in relation to obligations such as property rights, child custody, etc should the partners elect to dissolve their contract. As a non participant in the latter it is doubtful, I think, that God bestows his blessing on the civil contract, leaving those things that belong to Caesar's to him. But, of course, I don't know for sure!


john frawley | 11 April 2021  

Hello Ginger: Yes, I agree with you on HH’s comments, as well as Michael’s sensitive personal sharing, and AO’s mention of a beautiful friend.


Fosco | 11 April 2021  

Pope Francis made his position clear when he asked "Who am I to judge?" and, I think, must be wondering how he could be clearer. I wonder why in the 21st century the Church has a Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. We are on a path to the demise of the human race on this planet as a result of failing to change course on environmental issues, so eloquently addressed in Laudato si'. Our country locks up asylum seekers in offshore detention camps and Pope Francis has condemned the response of rich countries like ours to desperate asylum seekers. While I recognise that the views being expressed here are sincerely held, this discussion seems to me to be a case of re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, to use that well worn metaphor. Students at St Aloysius should take note of : "Who am I to judge?" , ignore relics of the past like CDF, and move on to the things that matter.


Joseph Fernandez | 11 April 2021  

Fosco: In the context of this ES discussion, the "vox populi" isn't a sociological or historical reference to peasantry - of your ancestors' origin or elsewhere. Here it includes university qualified contributors - some with PHDs in their field of learning - whose almost invariable opposition to magisterial teachings and rulings suggests they consider Rome alien and academic status more authoritative than the Pope and bishops in communion with him in matters of faith and morals.


John RD | 11 April 2021  

Marcus: ‘it's not the INTENTION to do good that matters....... but the objective good of the action carried out!.... What sort of benign God would advocate good intentions but evil outcomes based on some sort of ideological dogma?’ An aberrant intention to do good makes the so-called good outcome objectively false. The recipients of Father Jones’ pastoral concern will want to contribute to society by offering it a child or several, and so we’ll have one or more trophy children with three parents each, one of the biological parents probably being a parent in name only. Incidentally, is Father Jones going to insist that love can only occur between two people because a bisexual by definition is capable of falling in love with two people at once. Even heterosexuals can fall in love with more than one spouse or are you going to tell a Muslim that he doesn’t love his four wives, he only thinks he does? At the end of the day, the unlimited expanse of your imagination, uncontrolled by boring things like logical principle, is the expanse of your anarchic imagination.


roy chen yee | 11 April 2021  

Well, at least you didn’t call me a racist! G.M., your quarrel is not with me, but with unbroken Catholic teaching. I totally support your esteem of love, etc, as making a marriage flourish … your take there is thoroughly consonant with Catholic values. But those remarks are just beside the point in the determination as to when a marriage has actually come into existence. I’ll repeat my point so you can refute it. According to Catholic theology and canon law, you simply cannot be a candidate for marriage (natural or sacramental) to your intended if you’re absolutely or relatively impotent … i.e., you and your intended are unable for whatever reason carry out the marital act. Sterility is not an impediment: Fr Jones seems to be confusing sterility with impotence. Being potent is a necessary, albeit not sufficient, condition for being able to be married. What is that crucial marital act? Ask the marriage tribunal in any diocese the world over. You’ll find their answer to be the same appalling, narrow-minded, male-dominated, obscene proposition as mine. Same-sex genital acts, and even opposite-sex genital acts which aren’t the marital act as I’ve described above, do not consummate a marriage. Of course there are many other impediments to a Catholic or natural law marriage … one has only to look up Wikipedia to find a good list. I’m astonished that in this age people reach for the vapours when they learn the authentic Catholic teaching on marriage even though they previously considered themselves informed enough to pronounce on the issue. It’s not hard to find out about; sex is a fascinating topic, and so is what we weirdo Catholics are bound to believe on the matter. BTW: I committed to supporting my ageing father for the rest of his natural life. There was no way I would consign him to the hell-hole of a nursing home after all he and my mother had done for me. I believe our eight years together reflected, however imperfectly, the values you so commendably uphold as essential to a good marriage. But we weren’t married … or were we? Please explain.


HH | 12 April 2021  

Fosco, I was told about, by an elderly relative, of a man he knew of who was a simple illiterate farmer who lived in a tiny village in Europe. This man was known in his village to write endless pages of what seemed to some very learned men from the Catholic Church, to be very elaborate and detailed recorded descriptions of very elaborate ancient Jewish ceremonies akin to many of the writings found in the Torah and the Midrash. European Peasantry? The true recipients of the Love of God, and of His Wisdom.


AO | 12 April 2021  

Ginger Meggs: ‘What an appalling, narrow-minded, male-dominating and, dare I say it, obscene, definition of the core essentials of marriage….’ Marriage is more than the marital act. It includes, for example, the seemingly interminable boredom of accompanying a spouse up and down the aisles of Coles or Woolies. However, while same-sexers and potential polygamous or polyandrous bisexuals can also walk up and down those same aisles, it needs the marital act as defined by HH to ensure that the baby is truly a descendant of the two official spouses.


roy chen yee | 12 April 2021  

Speaking of wives and marriage it's interesting how other religions view the covenant of marriage. As Michael Furtado has mentioned in a previous post, Francis has sanctioned same sex civil unions to protect gay property rights. During a prison interview Masaba told The Christian Science Monitor: "If God permits me, I will marry more than 86 wives. A normal human being could not marry 86 – but I can only by the grace of God, I married 86 women and there is peace in the house – if there is peace, how can this be wrong?" Solomon, incorrectly described as the father of all wisdom, had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Joseph Smith, founder of LDS (latter day saints) had over 30 wives. Brigham Young LDS, Utah's first governor had 55 wives. Fat'h Ali Shah Qajar, 158 wives (though some reports say he had over 1000). Mohammed Abybakar 120 wives, divorced 10, 203 kids. Mon Dieu, he alone could have filled 10 classrooms at St Aloysius. Thank you John Frawley for drawing my attention to the distinction between a contract and a covenant. And for the hardliners in Islam, What Does ISIS have to say about same sex intimacy? Of course I realize this post may set the PC team's teeth at ES on edge. "According to ISIS' radical interpretation of Islam, gays should be thrown from a high building then stoned if they are not dead when they hit the ground. The group bases this gruesome punishment on one account in which the Prophet Muhammad reportedly said gays "should be thrown from tremendous height then stoned." Haaretz May 17 2018.


Francis Armstrong | 12 April 2021  

Hello John RD: That the last generation of the vox populi, in countries like Australia, has added degrees and PhD’s to their CV is one of the changes resulting in the empty pews. Your popes and bishops have not come to terms with this reality. It may seem ironic that the Church, which has so much valued education, should have become its victim. But that’s not so. What is authentic in the Church will continue, even if in some other form. Should the Vatican end up a tourist museum, so what?


Fosco | 12 April 2021  

'It's reasonable to assume that many militant atheists have been and continue to be good samaritans. Good can be done without God (leaving aside the divine permissive will). But, so what? The intention to do good without God is idolatry of self and contradicts the first commandment. Most of this article seems to advocate that the Church enables idolatry of self.' (Roy Chen Yee, April 7). I'm pretty sure, given the propensity for the Scriptures to be quoted in mutually exclusive causes that the Gospels trump the Commandments and what Roy makes of them. The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue, are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship that play a fundamental role in Judaism and Christianity. The text of the Ten Commandments appears twice in the Hebrew Bible (Exodus 20:2–17 and Deuteronomy 5:6–21); but so what? Apart from Jesus reducing them to the first two (Matt, 22:37-39) I think it safe to say that the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) is intended to clarify and take precedence over them. I'm afraid this means that the so-called militant atheists who fail Roy's overly subtle casuistic reasoning may well practice the Christianity he misses.


Michael Furtado | 12 April 2021  

Joseph: Eliminating the CDF would diminish the collegiality of bishops, and possibly encourage a counterproductive papal autocracy that would not reflect the Christ-designated relationship between Peter and the other Apostles which is an intrinsic part of the Catholic Church's structure. Further, Pope Francis' comment in response to journalists' questions doesn't meet the conditions of an ex cathedra pronouncement or even an exercise of the Church's ordinary magisterium - though it's interesting and ironic that many who oppose such exercises of magisterial authority wish to invest his question with this very status.


John RD | 12 April 2021  

John RD – thank you for the additional detail provided. I appreciate the approach you bring to the issue of Conscience: I would agree that conscience is poorly served if it is expressed simply as a subjective function of an individual. As to the issue of consulting the laity on matters of faith and morals just a brief additional comment. When Newman refers to the “ecclesia docens” he wasn't introducing the term – it had a provenance, along with its pair “ecclesia discens”, which preceded Newman by centuries. Indeed, Newman was challenging the “teaching church” to listen carefully to the laity when formulating teachings on faith and morals – a listening that had become less commonplace, especially post Reformation. While Newman was not seeking to circumscribe the agency of the bishops and Pope, his mere suggestion of requiring a “listening” to the laity met with a hostile response from a number of the English hierarchy at the time. Recovering the significance of the laity's role in contributing to the sensus fidelium (or what is meant by any of its several closely related terms) is a work in progress.


Bill Burke | 12 April 2021  

Roy, it may come as a surprise to you that the basis of most long-lasting successful marriages is not sex. Ideally 2 people make a commitment to marry and be faithful to each other for life even after the initial spark of sexual attraction has faded. Marriage is not about primal sexual attraction but faithfulness. And a certain minority percentage variant in our society is same-sex oriented. They are a normal minority variant, not an intrinsically disordered creation of God doomed to live a life of celibacy and loneliness. Surely we've moved on from the narrow interpretation of natural law from pre-Christian philosophy based on soul-less, purely functional reproduction functions. There is actually a section of the LGBTI community that's indifferent to marriage equality and is more interested in a life of sexual liberty (rebellious hippies from the 60/70s), But society has moved on and the LGBTI community has matured and wants their human experience to be recognised, validated and dignified - and they already know this is the case regardless of whether a celibate priest is allowed to wave a magic hand during a blessing ceremony.


MARCUS | 12 April 2021  

HH, I hope you realise that the incidence of anal intercourse in heterosexual marriages is greater than in gay partnerships.


AURELIUS | 12 April 2021  

Joseph Fernandez: 'why in the 21st century the Church has a Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith." Because man does not live by bread alone etc..... The references to the environment and asylum seekers being an attempt to fill out the remainder of the scripture, picking some preferred version of ‘every word that comes from the mouth of God’ instead, in fact, of every word that does come from his mouth, all of Scripture and all of Tradition, is picking between menu items in a cafeteria.


roy chen yee | 12 April 2021  

Father Ross Jones SJ: ‘Nor must he/she be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters.” The document is about coercion of individuals from sources of oppression outside their group: ‘Religious freedom, in turn, which men demand as necessary to fulfill their duty to worship God, has to do with immunity from coercion in civil society. Therefore, it leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ.’ The test is whether it is moral for a priest to sue his bishop for ordering him, against his conscience, to stop blessing same sex unions. Traditional Catholic doctrine on his moral duty towards the true religion and the one Church of Christ would say no. Does that, then, make the doctrine immoral? If it does, how would the Church (or any religion) protect the structural integrity of its doctrine? The laity are a very long, insecure and porous border against invasive heterodoxy. It’s for good reason that Christ didn’t govern his flock by advice and consent (well, advice maybe) and, as his successors, the Apostles and apostles don’t either.


roy chen yee | 12 April 2021  

Following the logic of this article, the Church should bless group marriages and child marriages when these types of marriage start becoming acceptable.


Marita | 13 April 2021  

Marcus: ‘ it may come as a surprise to you that the basis of most long-lasting successful marriages is not sex. Ideally 2 people make a commitment to marry and be faithful to each other for life even after the initial spark of sexual attraction has faded. Marriage is not about primal sexual attraction but faithfulness. And a certain minority percentage variant in our society is same-sex oriented. They are a normal minority variant, not an intrinsically disordered creation of God doomed to live a life of celibacy and loneliness. Surely we've moved on from the narrow interpretation of natural law from pre-Christian philosophy based on soul-less, purely functional reproduction functions.’ 111 words which miss the point. Marriage is lifelong and between a man and a woman so the children know to which adults they exclusively belong and which adults belong exclusively to them. That is why marriage is a social institution. Same-sex civil unions misnamed as marriage and the idea that a marriage can be nullified by something called a divorce are co-equally egotistical aberrations.


roy chen yee | 13 April 2021  

Michael Furtado: ‘Apart from Jesus reducing them to the first two (Matt. 22:37-39) I think it safe to say that the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) is intended to clarify and take precedence over them.’ How does the second of the ‘first two’ take precedence over both, or even just the first, of the ‘first two’? The parable is in response to ‘who is my neighbour’ not ‘how do you love God with, as it were, your whole being?’


roy chen yee | 13 April 2021  

Marita's self-styled logic is really a fantastiical non-sequitur. Plural marriages are never legal because the test of their meeting the ethical standards reserved for monogamy can never apply, e.g. in respect of the freedom to migrate or divorce. Thus, some parties to such arrangements are absolutely denied the rights that couples ordinarily have, which basically negates the principle that the law must apply to all or else to nobody because its an ass. The same objection applies to child marriages and, if anything, with greater ethical persuasion because children are unable to consent to a contract requiring lifelong adult commitment. I might add that these kind of tawdry objections to Fr Jones are as embarrassingly risky as a battered fortress under relentless siege from many uniquely different, well-armed and notably unrepetitive quarters, as John RD should concede. His squawks of hapless desperation are not as impressive as his recent recourse to humour, illustrated in his reference elsewhere to blebs. That new mellifluousness in his bugling repertoire is borrowed, one assumes, from El Roy, who cleverly sidetracks towards hilarious hyperbole every time his case collapses upon application of the test of proportionality and he faces the merciful prospect of summary dispatch.


Michael Furtado | 13 April 2021  

Thank you, Bill. I'm glad to see we agree on the clarification of my earlier view of conscience you requested. On the "Ecclesia docens" and "Ecclesia discens" (or "docta" as Newman also calls it) and the matter of consultation of the latter by the former, I readily acknowledge, as you point out, that the terms pre-date Newman. However, his understanding of the word " consult" seems highly circumscribed. Responding to Ushaw College's Professor John Gillow's challenge that his insistence on "consulting" the laity seemed to imply that the infallibility of the Church resided in the laity rather than the hierarchy, in order to clarify his use of "consult" Newman employs the analogy of consulting a weather-gauging instrument: "The barometer does not give us its opinion, but ascertains for us a fact . . . I had not a dream of understanding the word . . . in the sense of asking an opinion." (Letters and Diaries, xix. 135). Further, in his famous Rambler article "On Consulting the Faithful on Matters of Doctrine", Newman writes: "Their (i.e., the laity's) belief is sought for as testimony to that apostolic tradition, on which alone any doctrine whatever can be defined." (54-5). "Testimony" here is distinguished from "opinion". He also affirms that sole responsibility for "discerning, discriminating, defining, promulgating and enforcing any portion of that (i.e., the apostolic) tradition" lies with the hierarchy.(63). Moreover, Newman also appears to assume a theologically literate "educated" and faith-practising laity in the scope of his application of "consulting." He opines: " . . . the "Ecclesia docens" is more happy when she has enthusiastic partisans about her" (106), to which end he encourages "the study of her divine doctrines" (loc.cit.) - a counsel by the heeding of which, I believe, all ES readers and contributors can greatly benefit.


John RD | 14 April 2021  

Fosco: Those charged with the formal Apostolic teaching responsibility in the Catholic Church (i.e., the Pope and bishops in communion with him) don't "tell God what to do" (6/4). They - often with the assistance of competent lay people in various fields - interpret, develop and define what is consistent with the teaching and apostolic mandate of Christ who has called them to this role in the life of the Church - one for which they are particularly accountable, as the hymn "Now thank we all our God" goes: "in this world and the next." Further, the teaching requirement you describe and propose as "a journey through the dark night of our inner reality", while it may be personally authentic, seems a very subjective basis for a common belief, and a vaguer criterion for theological "qualification" than any official teaching document emanating from Rome I'm familiar with, especially in the modern era.


John RD | 14 April 2021  

Bill Burke's scripturally based pastoral counsel of charity and compassion (9/4) are very apposite - these virtues are the outreaching voice and outstretched hands of Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life, expressing in integrated action the reality of the Word - just as Christ, who calls all into fuller life, did to the Samaritan woman at the well and the woman caught in adultery; and so many others in the Gospels - and still does through his Church. Charity and compassion invite and enable, with the assistance of God's grace, our fulfilment of his call to repentance and responsiveness to his promise of life to the full.


John RD | 14 April 2021  

Father Ross Jones SJ: ‘Suffice it to say that there can be life-commitments before God which are not sacraments, but are nevertheless blessed – as is the case with religious vows. Blessings can be given outside sacraments. As for “what is revealed in sacred scripture” concerning homosexuality, current biblical scholars of note are rather less absolutist and much more nuanced about this than in the past. The difference between a school of reason approach and a physicalist model is seen clearly in the style of the Church’s teaching documents. The social justice statements are drawn largely from reasoned reflection on scripture, the dignity of the person, and on what it is to be human. And they are embraced by people with enthusiasm. Those to do with sexuality usually start from the other approach. Too often they do not stand up to the test of reason….’ What is a less absolutist, much more nuanced, less physicalist, more school of reason approach, drawn from reflection on the dignity of the person and what it is to be human, concerning: www.lifesitenews.com/news/man-claiming-to-be-female-wants-to-become-nun-i-will-not-give-up-even-if-i-have-to-go-to-the-vatican ? LGBTIQ* is a camel. It's not just the nose that will be wedging its way under the hem of the tent.


roy chen yee | 14 April 2021  

John RD – thank you for your kind observation: I have nothing to add to your synopsis of Newman's position presented at the time of the Rambler article and during its aftermath. Until next time – cheers.


Bill Burke | 14 April 2021  

Another breezy bombast from Michael Furtado. ‘Plural marriages are never legal because the test of their meeting the ethical standards reserved for monogamy can never apply, e.g. in respect of the freedom to migrate or divorce.’ With respect to ‘migrate’, if you had children in school with settled friendships, even moving suburbs would require consulting them. Why would the number of spouses matter to the argument? You’d be consulting spouses as well as children. With ‘divorce’, children are ‘consulted’, not consulted, because they have no say. They just put up with the outcome, the undivorced spouse(s) and their children unaffected. ‘The same objection applies to child marriages…because children are unable to consent….’ The age of consent is two years less than the age of marriage and a conditional marriage can be applied for for those under 18 (probably because of a pregnancy). A marriage would make a blessing unnecessary but, of course, the marriage would be more for the sake of the child than anything else. Sans marriage, the blessing of a very young (unmarried) mother would probably be the pastoral thing to do but, as with the marriage, it is forced upon the Church by the child as hostage.


roy chen yee | 14 April 2021  

M. Furtado, John RD’s frequent comments in Eureka Street are anything but ‘desperate’. If anything it is the compulsively scornful tone and stereotyping that you submit as argument that is desperate. Why not answer questions and address the points of John RD and others you disagree with in a measured, respectful tone, and treat things that require serious reflection in an appropriate manner?


Mark F | 14 April 2021  

Aurelius, I don’t see how your proposition, true or not, defeats mine. My position entails that even if every genuinely married couple in the world were to abandon the marital act, and practice exclusively non-marital genital sex, this would not change the metaphysical status of the marital act. The marital act, rather like the law of gravity, is not subject to redefinition by statistics on behaviour – here, what opposite-sex married couples do - , nor by societal opinion – here, what people think it’s acceptable they do. Incidentally, to show how unprejudiced on this I am, I’ll put it that there is arguably a double wickedness to many non-marital genital acts between authentically married couples since, at least some of the time, many are engaging in such acts in order to close off the possibility of their sexual activity from being in itself open to conception – a perverse project that same-sex couples can’t reasonably adopt.


HH | 14 April 2021  

M.F.: children have the a priori right to be raised by their biological parents in their natural family. Biological parents have the corresponding serious obligation vis a vis their children. Same-sex “marriage” parenthood, as with all donor insemination/surrogacy arrangements, denies in principle, and obviously without the child's consent, the constructive “child” of same-sex parents the rights that children in natural marriages ordinarily enjoy, and ultra vires absolves the biological parent or parents involved of the obligations parents of their nature have. So the same ground you legitimately use to argue against legalizing polygamy and child marriage is the ground on which same-sex marriage should never be recognized. As the principle of the lesser of two evils, the situation is arguably much worse in the case of same-sex “marriage” … at least the little girl married off at six gets to spend six years (sometimes many more) having her natural rights honoured by being parented by her biological parents, and children in polygamist marriages have their rights imperfectly honoured by at least being raised by both their biological parents, even if their parents are not in the natural and optimal monogamous opposite sex arrangement. In terms of the rights of children in these various arrangements, you’ve strained at the (albeit intrinsically evil) institutional gnats of polygamy and child marriage, but swallowed the camel (a horse designed by our dictatorial P.C. woke culture hegemonists) of same-sex marriage (no disrespect to camels, horses or gnats intended.) It is your answer to Marita which involves logical inconsistency, not Marita’s speculation.


HH | 14 April 2021  

Although I've questioned here aspects of what Fr Ross Jones SJ has said, I'm confident that his, the St Aloysius' College community's and the Jesuits' experience and sense of inclusivity and legitimate diversity in education is wider and profounder than what Michael Furtado - who, not for the first time in ES, resorts to gratuitous exclusionary suggestion (9/4) as a means of quashing opinion and the conversation it promotes - supposes. Wackford Squeers of Dotheboys Hall might be receptive, MF.


John RD | 15 April 2021  

M.F.: children have the a priori right to be raised by their biological parents in their natural family. Biological parents have the corresponding serious obligation vis a vis their children. Same-sex parenthood, as with all donor insemination/surrogacy arrangements, denies in principle, and obviously without the child's consent, the rights that children in natural marriages ordinarily enjoy, and purports to absolve the biological parent or parents involved of the obligations parents ordinarily have. So the same ground you legitimately use to argue against legalizing polygamy and child marriage is the ground on which same-sex marriage should, equally, never be recognized. Moreover, the situation is significantly worse in the case of same-sex parenthood. At least the little girl married off at six gets to spend her early years having her natural rights honoured by being raised by both her biological parents, and children in polygamist marriages have their rights imperfectly honoured by at least being raised by both their biological parents, even if their parents are not in the natural and optimal monogamous opposite sex arrangement. In terms of violence to children in these various arrangements, you’ve strained at the gnats of polygamy and child marriage, but then swallowed the camel of same-sex parenthood. It is your response to Marita which involves inconsistency.


HH | 15 April 2021  

Apologies for inadvertent double posts. I stand by the content of both, of course.


HH | 15 April 2021  

I would normally accept Mark F's rebuke, were he to expand on his position by providing evidence for it, and not by discounting my substantive and infinitely detailed and varied responses over many months in defense of homosexual Catholics like me in terms of the strictures that John and his judgmental cohort consistently and repetitively place upon our access to the sacraments and such like. Similarly, Mark's secluded identity, like John RD's, somewhat compromises both of their positions in terms of the openness and honesty that such a potentially inflammatory issue commands of those who take issue with Fr Jones on this sensitive and highly contested topic. Given the wall behind which he hides, John must therefore expect that his trenchant focus on homosexual guilt and repentance will regrettably result in a certain amount of unparliamentary arm-wrestling that might otherwise not be acceptable in more civil and less emotionally-fraught contexts. While John's alter-ego, Roy, no less sabre-toothed than I am, is adept at quoting Dickens to support their cause, they mustn't forget the lesson of Thackeray's 'Barchester Towers' in which the odious Bishop and Mrs Proudie come to grief at the hands of their weaponiser-in-chief, the sycophantic Rev Obadiah Slope.


Michael Furtado | 15 April 2021  

MF you miss the point of the Samaritan parable. "And behold, a lawyer stood up to put [Jesus] to the test, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the Law? How do you read it?’ And he answered, ’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.’ And he said to him, ’You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.’ But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbour to the man who fell among the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘You go, and do likewise.’ If you think about this, the priest later became a Bishop but the Samaritan represented the laity. Little has changed under the sun. The hierarchy talk about the law but the laity implement it. Now who did Christ admire here?


Francis Armstrong | 15 April 2021  

I wasn't intending to invest Pope Francis' question "Who am I to judge" with ex cathedra status, whatever that is - I just think he sets a marvellous example for us. If we are talking about "ex-cathedra", Hans Kung's article in NCR is worth re-reading this month: https://www.ncronline.org/news/theology/infallibility-hans-k-ng-appeals-pope-francis The CDF attempting to ban him suggests to me that anyone disagreeing with the CDF is in very good company. Kung was one of the great theologians of the Catholic Church and a great advocate for ecumenism. The anachronistic CDF seems to be a latter day equivalent of the Scribes and Pharisees and Jesus expressed his opinion of them in Matthew 23:27. Francis is not as radical as Jesus, so he is much more restrained in his language.


Joseph Fernandez | 16 April 2021  

Hello John RD: “those charged with the formal apostolic teaching responsibility in the Catholic Church (i.e., the Pope and bishops in communion with him)………….” very poetic. Takes me back over sixty years when I first hear it at primary, brainwashing school. I am sure I believed it back in the magical world of childhood. Pity I had to grow up and come to terms with Cain murdering Abel (or was it the other way?). But, I will leave the last words to an academic and former Church scholar. Actually, I hardly knew him because I never studied the Humanities. He spoke fluent Italian, studied in Rome as a priest, maybe marked out for high office. He still had a residence there. Like so many, he left consecrated orders during the reign of St Pope John Paul II the Great, but remained a committed catholic. During our asymmetrical conversation – we did not have much in common – I asked him about his Vatican experience: “it’s all about careers, nobody believes in anything”.


Fosco | 16 April 2021  

Francis Armstrong, in his enthusiasm to champion the lay Synodal cause, which, as a Catholic I cannot but support, has misread my allusion to the Samaritan. As a rank outsider the Samaritan is lifted by Jesus in the context of the parable to a position far more elevated than any that the Judeo-Christian scriptures, including the Commandments, identify. It was splendid Roy who forced the comparison, somehow including the sinful paramountcy of self-idolatry with the Samaritan narrative and which reduces the parable shockingly. My position is that any Samaritan, regardless of background and religious affinity and whether atheist or not, is one whom Jesus exalts above all others. As for relating this somewhat obscure and forcibly co-opted comparison to the Synodal struggle between Bishops and Laity, Francis' contribution to this exchange affords me the opportunity to say that I think he goes too far in his Bishop-bashing. Some tender mercy and compassion are in order here, Francois, simply because the gloved hand offers a more viable chance of pre-Synodal glasnost than your wonderfully irate, no-holds-barred Greco-Roman wrestling. Perhaps this was Roy's clever intention, viz. that he should somehow take Ross Jones' wicket, while having us sent off for ball tampering.


Michael Furtado | 16 April 2021  

Michael Furtado: ‘[W]ere he to expand on his position by providing evidence for it, and not by discounting my substantive and infinitely detailed and varied responses over many months’: a burnt pot calling a kettle still on the shop shelf black. ‘Mark's secluded identity, like John RD's, somewhat compromises both of their positions in terms of the openness and honesty that such a potentially inflammatory issue commands of those who take issue with Fr Jones on this sensitive and highly contested topic’: irrelevant, the contest is between ideas, not people; just address the ideas point-by-point. ‘[T]hey mustn't forget the lesson of Thackeray's 'Barchester Towers' in which the odious Bishop and Mrs Proudie come to grief at the hands of their weaponiser-in-chief, the sycophantic Rev Obadiah Slope’ Not according to links to the Trollope Society. In ‘Barchester Towers’, the Proudies fire the double-dealing Slope. Mrs Proudie dies in a later story and the Bishop is freed of her dominance. He continues happily ever after as bishop. (However, Slope does land on his feet to become pastor to a church in London and husband to a rich widow.) Was it a manga Barchester Towers you read? To go with the manga magisterium?


roy chen yee | 16 April 2021  

So Fosco, what is your criterion for what is true - novelty?


John RD | 16 April 2021  

'Who am I to judge?" is not a typical response of Pope Francis on same-sex marriage or other issues of faith and morals upheld by the Church, Joseph. The fairly impromptu press conference context does much, I suggest, to explain it. It's good you recognise the question as non-binding on Catholics, and, I'd hope, as impossible when we humans exercise our God-given intellect in an evaluative mode - as you do, do you not - - in branding the CDF?


John RD | 16 April 2021  

Michael Furtado: The "strictures'" to which you refer are not peculiarly mine, nor are they exclusively applied to what you call matters of "homosexual guilt"; rather, they are the Church's requirements, as I understand and accept them, for objectively recognisable serious sin. - You know, MF, this is about the third time you've raised the "secluded identity" matter, and my reply is the same as before: what is being said should be the focus of debate and discussion. This time, though, if for no other reason than your apparently driven persistence, I'll add that on two occasions my employment has been jeopardised for the public expression of views on topical matters affecting the Catholic Church - views I've consistently expressed in ES, from the injustices done to Cardinal Pell and Archbishop Wilson, to same-sex marriage, to abortion and euthanasia, to secularisation, to postmodernism, and to neo-Marxism - in local and national newspapers and magazines, with my name and address evident and accessible. That I choose, for now, to be circumspect, I regard as my and my family's prerogative - though my identity is known to many whom I trust, including ES staff; and has been known well before my comments in this forum. Unlike the views you espouse, mine do not enjoy the politically correct and widely accepted contemporary popularity yours evidently do - and not just on marriage and sexual morality. So, for the time being, the satisfying of your curiosity will have to remain in suspense - not that this should affect your judgment of me and others who may choose to do the same.


John RD | 16 April 2021  

Thank you, John RD, for your last post. Hard though it seems, I would defend to the death your right to express your views and compliment Eureka Street on its readiness to publish you. While I disagree with your theology, I cannot endorse your dismissal from employment, unless, that is, your views came to influence and damage the young and vulnerable in your charge. Even then, a wise leader would somehow manage to allocate responsibilities attuned to your phenomenal analytical skills which, I'd have thought, could have respected the overarching principle of disagreeing with your theology but defending to the death your right to embrace it. Of course, sometimes that's easier said than done, as 'd imagine, having been there and done that, your unalloyed commitments would have brought you into conflict with some of your colleagues. Still, I am deeply saddened for you that this happened and commend this outreach of Jesuit ministry for providing you (and me!) with an outlet for expressing views that would never be published elsewhere in the Catholic cosmos that we both love. Let us therefore honour this forum in more respectful ways than both of us have tended to engage in so far.


Michael Furtado | 17 April 2021  

Although of Asian origin and highly culturally hybridised, the low-brow cultural circles in which I meander are such that I couldn't lay claim to an appreciation of the finer aspects of contemporary manga stylistic representation that Roy evidently reads and understands so well. I even encountered an exquisitely beautiful and heart-rending Crucifixion drawing depicting the Japanese martyrs and, in the absence of Roy's allusion, I wouldn't have been any the wiser without his chastising words. Therefore, what may have been intended as another rebuke, if not an insult, had its opposite effect in turning me towards my roots, denied me because of the ultra-orthodoxy of my upbringing, as indeed I sometimes wonder about Roy's. What would Roy's contributions be like, I'm sure some curious ES readers ask, if the Gospel narratives were read through orientalist eyes, instead of the beautiful but morbidly Jansenist theology that Roy embraces. Bowing to his superior knowledge of Thackeray, I ask myself about what Roy's brilliant contributions here might be if he turned his mind to aspects of cultural representation and co-option that provide such a necessary and in many ways successful lens for Jesuit evangelists in the contemporary world of love, justice and liberation.


Michael Furtado | 17 April 2021  

I find it difficult to believe that someone with this attitude to the church's teaching on homosexuality is a teacher at a catholic school and must be leading innocent children astray with such misrepresentation of the church's teaching. Please refresh your memory by reading on Page 566 - Subject Index 2357 to 2359 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. No amount of so called "contemporary school of reason" or the more enlightened 200 German professors can change the truth about homosexuality that has been revealed to us by scripture and confirmed down through the ages by the Holy Spirit acting authentically within the Holy Catholic Church.


Peter Quinlan | 17 April 2021  

Hello John RD: my criterion is human experience. I do not know where that will take me in the afterlife but my best option is to live one life at a time. Besides, I have a plan for the Day of Judgement. If we all stick together, and forgive one another for the terrible things we have done to one another, we can all go to heaven. You dismiss my offering of “journey” as personal, subjective and not a basis for common belief. But, it’s just the Book of Job.


Fosco | 17 April 2021  

Michael Furtado: ‘Jansenist’ Much like the hammer with the problem and the nail, to certain species of Catholic, every other looks like a ‘Jansenist’. Perhaps they should read the clues and do their homework, akin to asking themselves what the Trollope Society has to do with ‘Thackeray’.


roy chen yee | 18 April 2021  

Michael Furtado: In the incidences to which I refer (16/4), there was no suggestion of my views "influencing and damaging the young and vulnerable." "Obstructionist thinking" reported to the Administration and the Catholic Education Office for my criticisms of liberation theology, Marxist influence on curriculum, same-sex marriage, abortion and women's ordination were alleged as the main causes of offence. Each of these was unavoidable in the curriculum and teaching of senior courses in Religion, History and English, as were my contributions as a teacher. I consider, too, different ages and educational experience salient, though not decisive, factors in the matter. Finally, union advice, the support of a number of colleagues, and of the Archbishop were relevant in resolving the employment aspect, though the issue of radically differing understandings of and attitudes towards the teachings of the Catholic Church among staff remains in a number of Catholic schools of my acquaintance. The current fraught relationship between contemporary theological opinion and Magisterial pronouncements - and their respective orthodoxy and authority - persists, as it does in most of our exchanges in ES, as a running sore; and, in my opinion, at its worst, a scandal. I will endeavour to continue ES contributions in a spirit and tone of appropriate respect, as I accept you desire in your 17/4 response. Thank you, Michael.


John RD | 18 April 2021  

Fosco - I don't "dismiss" your "journey" - if I did, I'd not have replied to any of your posts. Rather it's your repeated rationale of having heard terms I've used like "the pope and bishops in communion with him" advanced as an overriding objection to acceptance of Catholic Church teaching. I don't see that this premise and method of argument - repetition - evidently influenced by your early experience of schooling, objectively negates the value of what is being expressed; on the contrary, formulaic repetitions emphasise the perennial truth and significance of what is being expressed, and provide sure sign posts along our pilgrimage. - I share your hope of meeting in heaven, Fosco; in a greater one than that imagined by John Lennon.


John RD | 18 April 2021  

In all things, I feel we are to take the example of those who have found love in what they do, and who they are. Not in what others do or who they are. So, if a catholic priest leaves his order, and then says " It's all about careers, nobody believes," that is his reason he left. That thought and belief is a Path he makes for himself = Disbelief. He is justifying his lack of faith by the lack of faith of other clergy men. However, it is never about what others believe, but what we believe. Were it, how could David had struck down the giant? Look inside, build inside. Others have other paths. Many dictated by the others they follow. It's not about following others by walking their Paths of thought and disbelief. Many are the trials. Even so. He who keeps the faith is the stronger in heart, mind and soul. Faith = no tangible proof. When you have it, no proof is of any value and any proof is an impediment. Faith = more precious than gold by the tone!


AO | 19 April 2021  

John RD, I'll record some unredacted findings made by the RC on Pell. And hope that FB's hero worship of him wont cause the ES editors to refuse to print these. 1989 The RC found aux Bishop Pell should have removed Searson though he sidestepped and blamed AB Little. The RC said of Little he showed an appalling failure of leadership. 1973 RC found Pell had considered the prudence of Gerard Ridsdale talikg boys on overnight camps. 1973 RC found Pell was conscious of clergy abuse and avoidance of situations of gossip. Early 1970s RC found Pell told by students and other priests about CB Ted Dowlan and did not tell Mulkearns. Tim Green student told Pell to his face about Dowlan and Pell said "dont be ridiculous! " and walked away. Witness BWF of St Pat's demanded Pell do something about a boy at St Pats who was beaten and molested. Pell response "young man - how dare you knock on this door and make demands!" Then told "Go away". 1980s RC found knew Ridsdale was sexually transgressing and that was the reason Mulkearns removed him from Mortlake. Wilson at first instance was found guilty of covering up sexual abuse for which he got a 2 year sentence. Though overturned on appeal (where he pleaded Alzheimer's), the appeal judge did not have the benefit of observing the witnesses in the box. And for the benefit of MF, who though wonderfully erudite seems exceptionally hard of hearing ; "Once upon a time there was a senior priest in Melbourne who for 20 years refused to open letters from BR detailing accounts and reports of pedophile clergy and he sent them back unopened. So for 20 years like the priest and the Levite, he crossed the road, shook his head and let the victims bleed in the ditch. Now of course He is an ArchBishop. By the by, one of the collective terms applicable to Bishops is "a lechery of Bishops". And how appropriate is that term to the current cohort in this lucky country.


Francis Armstrong | 19 April 2021  

Peter Quinlan registers his right to object to Ross Jones about Jones' Letter to Parents, here published. Alas, the reason to which Quinlan appeals exposes the inadequacy of his argument. Simply to say 'No' to Fr Jones, in the manner of Beatrice Webb's to Karl Marx's assertion that Britain was 'ripe for revolution', is an opportunity dashed upon the rocks of a point that has been made ad infinitum by Jones as well as several others. Now if Mr Quinlan had been, as his namesake, the Chief Justice of WA (himself the beneficiary of a Jesuit education) might, he would conceivably have used the space allowed to tender some additional reasons, beyond those already mentioned, for why Fr Jones might be wrong. Instead, our Mr Quinlan overreaches himself in using the Catechism as an excuse; for, as far as I am aware, Ross Jones would be very careful not to offend against the Church's magisterial teaching and instead, as a good Jesuit would (and a Catholic worth his Baptism should) explores contexts in which such a teaching requires the application of due diligence that the Magisterium commands. As for Roy: for Trollope a Thackeray might suffice as 'just as sweet'.


Michael Furtado | 19 April 2021  

Michael Furtado 13.4.21: Just a few years ago, same-sex marriage was considered "fantastical". The fundamental issue this article touches on is: Does Truth change? If yes, then it doesn't make sense to talk about human rights, 'ethics', 'equality', etc, as all these lie on shifting ground. If no, then it doesn't make sense to talk about distortions of truth, like same-sex marriage. The Church has outlived many distortions of truth, and will outlive current distortions, because Truth (i.e., Reality) asserts itself.


marita | 19 April 2021  

"Who am I to judge?" is , I think, indeed very representative of Francis' gentle style of attempting, with humility, to persuade us. I don't recall the Gospel writers telling us that Jesus drew distinctions between his pronouncements , informing his audience on one day that he was speaking ex cathedra and on another day that he was holding an impromptu press conference. Jesus did not condemn, except for hypocrisy in the institutional religious leaders of his day - the installation of money lenders in the temple and the behaviour of the Scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23:27). Francis follows his example and attempts with Evangelli Gaudium, Laudato si', Fratelli tutti and other documents to draw our attention to what is one single overriding moral issue - our duty to care for all of society and all of creation rather than creating a consumer society based on huge and increasing inequality and destruction of the environment. Like John XXIII he does not believe in his infallibility. If he was judgemental in his approach and behaved like the CDF, he would be busy excommunicating climate change deniers - since climate change is going to make the human race extinct and is disproportionately affecting the poorest people - and excommunicating those who demonise desperate asylum seekers. Instead he acts with humility and attempts to persuade us to change our ways.


Joseph Fernandez | 19 April 2021  

‘Alas, the reason to which Quinlan appeals.…is an opportunity dashed upon the ….for Trollope a Thackeray might suffice as 'just as sweet'.’ That, for Michael Furtado, Thackeray suffices for Trollope exposes his penchant to imitate Donald Trump’s light relationship to fact, and leads to the second occasion within one thread of a burnt pot calling a kettle still on the shop shelf black.


roy chen yee | 21 April 2021  

Joseph: As I'd hope is evident from my previous posts, I support Pope Francis calling us, like Christ, "to change our ways", or to undergo "metanoia". These appeals and injunctions of both Christ and the Pope presuppose moral and social judgments of what is and what is not compatible with the "reign of God" and "life to the full" Christ initiated and announced in his person. The Church's hierarchy, of which the Pope and CDF are a part, has the same responsibility - but, obviously, not being Christ himself, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, scripture and the Church's tradition, has necessarily to discern and adjudicate what is of Christ and consistent with his Gospel of life and what is not: the magisterial commission and prerogative of the Apostles and their successors in the Church. Nor is it as though Francis has not used very strong language in expressing his pontifical rejection of practices endorsed by and clamoured for by an exclusively secular conception of what it is to be human - for instance, comparing the practices of the abortion industry to the work of hired "hit-men", and proponents of the redefinition of marriage, relativism, the culture of the ephemeral and lack of openness to life to "ideological colonisation". This side of the "gentle" Francis, evident in the Christ of the Gospels, isn't one we're often, if ever, exposed to in the secular or self-styled 'progressive' Catholic media - it does not and cannot resile from "judgment" of this kind, which helps make sense of the Church extending compassion, mercy and forgiveness in the way of Christ who "loved us while we were yet sinners" (Romans 5:8), and calling us to repentance and freedom - from sin and for service, and a place with his saints in his kingdom: in this world and the next.


John RD | 21 April 2021  

Marita: Relativistic assertions that oppose truth's permanence and knowability are self-defeating, despite their convenient and transient popularity. As you say, reality prevails in the face of experiments - even legalised ones, that oppose it - (not, though, at times, without struggle).


John RD | 21 April 2021  

Hello AO: I agree with you, TOTALLY; and so would the person I quoted. He too reflected that “life is a journey”. And, for him leaving the priesthood was part of the journey. He was no longer the very young man who had entered the seminary in the late 50’s. Over the last few months we have seen (with disbelief) the inner goings on of the “Canberra Bubble”; I used his words only to be concise about the “Vatican Bubble”. Elaine Pagels, in her book “The Gnostic Gospels”, made the observation that a more individualistic emphasis – as taught by the Gnostics – would have resulted in a very different Church structure. While of course, we continue to walk in the company of others, being micro-managed by a dubious central authority with dubious motives is not part of it. Supposedly there are 1.3 billion Catholics – I don’t know if I’m still counted – so, as the Chairman said “let 1.3 billion flowers blossom”.


Fosco | 21 April 2021  

For Christ's sake! Same sex marriage is the greatest oxymoron of our age.


john frawley | 21 April 2021  

I might add here that I have admired several Bishops. These are: Bishop Geoffrey Robinson. Bishop Bill Morris. Bishop Pat Power. Robinson replied to the bishops in his "Reflections on US Tour and Response to the Australian Bishops' Conference Statement". In March 2012, Robinson visited the United States again. On 15 March he was a plenary speaker and retreat presenter for the Seventh National Symposium on Catholicism & Homosexuality (15–17 March 2012, Baltimore, Maryland), organised by New Ways Ministry. He was invited to be the keynote speaker at the tenth annual VOTF Bridgeport conference on 24 March 2012 at Fairfield University, lecturing on "Reclaiming the Spirit of Jesus". On 4 June 2013, together with Bishop Bill Morris and Bishop Pat Power, Robinson officially launched a worldwide petition drive calling for an ecumenical council inclusive of the laity to put God's house in order. The petition, addressed to Pope Francis, says: We, the undersigned members of the Catholic Church, have been sickened by the continuing stories of sexual abuse within our Church, and we are appalled by the accounts of an unchristian response to those who have suffered. When so many people either offend or respond poorly, we cannot limit ourselves to blaming individuals, but must also look at systemic causes. The situation is so grave that we call for an Ecumenical Council to respond to the one question of doing everything possible to uproot such abuse from the Church and produce a better response to victims. An essential part of this call is that the laity of the whole world should have a major voice in the Council (for it is our children who have been abused or put at risk), and that the following subjects be included: 1. The continuing influence of the idea of an angry God 2. The immaturity that arises from passive obedience in adults 3. The teaching of the Church on sexual morality 4. The part played in abuse by celibacy, especially obligatory celibacy 5. The lack of a strong feminine influence in every aspect of the Church 6. The idea that through ordination the priest is taken above other people (clericalism) 7. The lack of professionalism in the life of priests and religious 8. The unhealthy situations in which many priests and religious are required to live 9. The constant placing of right beliefs before right actions 10. The passion for secrecy and the hiding of faults within the Church, especially in the Vatican 11. The ways in which the protection of papal authority has been put before the eradication of sexual abuse 12. The provision of structures to make a reality of the 'sense of faith' (sensus fidei) of all Catholic people 13. The need for each Conference of Bishops to have the authority to compel individual bishops to follow common decisions in this matter. Bishop Robertson is dead and Bill Morris (who would answer the phone at Sacred Heart and invite you for a cup of tea after mass in Toowoomba) was forced into exile by Pope Benedict. Pope Francis ignored their collective petition.


Francis Armstrong | 21 April 2021  

The late Hans Kung (RIP) defended as a fundamental premise in his radical work “Infallible?” that if anything was infallible according to the ordinary magisterium, the rule in Humanae vitae against contraception most certainly was. He devotes, with considerable historical and theological acumen, much argument to show that the rule in Hv is a classic example of a level of teaching that Vatican II’s Lumen gentium Para. 25 would designate as infallible. Kung’s catastrophic second premise (contraception is morally licit) and thence conclusion – the rejection of infallibility itself – are well known. Opponents of the rule in Humanae vitae, but somehow supportive of infallibility, in anaemic and desperate attempts struggled to deal with Kung’s argument. They failed. And pathetically: I defy anyone to make sense of Karl Rahner’s quickly forgotten, discombobulated answer. We could guffaw over his efforts, except for the seriousness of the matter. The “binary” Kung was right. Either the Church is infallible, or she’s not. If she is, then the rule in Humanae vitae is certain teaching. Which means, as a corollary to the premise on which the argument is based (see H.v. para 12), that all completed genital acts which are intentionally not the marital act - between opposite sex couples or otherwise -, are by that very fact grave matter. I’m happy to elaborate on that tough but liberating truth to those who can’t see it in the literal wording of H.v. 12, but really it should be obvious to those who read Humanae vitae with an open mind. Thank you, Professor Kung, for pointing out the import of Humanae vitae logically and unflinchingly, even if you never agreed with its ruling. I’m praying for your soul.


HH | 21 April 2021  

Marita will find that everything, in her manner of expression, lies on 'shifting ground', including Church doctrine, human rights discourse and indeed our very own human entelechy. To develop and grow are two absolute and incontestable features of our humanity. What on earth does Marita imagine Jesus did during the first thirty years of His Life and Ministry if He is to be called 'Fully Human'?


Michael Furtado | 22 April 2021  

Ross Howard, regarding Milo Yiannopoulos: born Milo Hanrahan (pen name Milo Andreas Wagner) he is a far-right commentator, polemicist, public speaker and writer whose speeches and writings often ridicule Islam, feminism, social justice, and political correctness, and a former editor for Breitbart News, a far-right media organisation. While there, Yiannopoulos rose to prominence as a significant voice in the Gamergate controversy. In 2016, he was permanently banned from Twitter for online harassment of actress Leslie Jones and permanently banned from Facebook in 2019. According to hundreds of emails by Yiannopoulos leaked by BuzzFeed in late 2017, Yiannopoulos repeatedly solicited white nationalists, such as American Renaissance editor Devin Saucier, for story ideas and editing suggestions during his tenure at Breitbart. Yiannopoulos has been accused of advocating for paedophilia arising from several video clips in which he said that sexual relationships between 13-year-old boys and adult men and women can be 'perfectly consensual' and positive experiences for the boys. Following the release of the video clips, Yiannopoulos was forced out of his position at Breitbart, his invitation to speak before the Conservative Political Action Conference was revoked, and a contract to publish his autobiography with Simon & Schuster cancelled. Pray for him!


Michael Furtado | 22 April 2021  

Following gnosticism, Fosco, would lead to no church structure, Fosco - just isolated individuals following their private 'lights' with no coherent and unifying doctrines and practices.


John RD | 22 April 2021  

Given his unstinting commitment to Trump's politics last year, before and after the latter's fall at the US polls, what an faithless lover of 'The Donald' has Roy turned out to be! This hardly augurs well for his unashamed status as ES' champion of right-wing causes, no matter how hopeless and commanding of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour's intercession he turns out to be. Flattered though I am by his overreach to compare me with his reactionary hero, Roy's gets it wrong yet again: my trendy left-liberal politics and theology are far-removed from all of Roy's Trumpestani positions, especially on religion and politics. This makes me wonder about not just my own wires which, like Roy's, get occasionally crossed (when I mistakenly insert 'Thackeray' for 'Trollope') but also about the workings of Roy's cosmos. Firstly, he dumped on Ilya Delio, then resurrected her to claim support for his views from her university and Humanities colleague, Eugene McCarraher. Perchance this is because of his modest attempt to seclude the identity of his own Alma Mater (Bob Jones University?) which accounts for his positions on almost everything. My grandmother, born in the same house as Thackeray, will be turning in her grave!


Michael Furtado | 22 April 2021  

HH: As I assume you know, the "Concilium" group that was largely the initiative of Kung, dispersed into a hydra of theological differences almost as quickly as it had formed and effectively ran its own 'Council' exploiting media publicity in its challenging of and dissent from traditional Catholic teaching, especially on issues related to authority in the Church - an atomising phenomenon with precedent in the aftermath of Luther's "sola scriptura" opposition to the same issue in the Reformation - an event which some commentators take as a model and justification for their own desire for radical restructuring of the Catholic Church and the rejection of its divine instituting - due, I believe, to an Arian view of Christ and a Bultmannian disjunction between Christ and his Church. In a Spring 1980 issue of "Communio", Hans Urs von Balthasar writes: "I can't but remember that shortly before his death, Karl Barth told me that Hans Kung (whom he began to mistrust) had paid him a visit and said to him triumphantly: "We will witness a new Reformation in the Church." And Barth answered "A reform would suffice." I join you, HH, in prayer for Hans Kung and also the many of his generation who came under his influence in 'loyal disobedience'.


John RD | 22 April 2021  

Hello Fosco. Nice ending to your comment “let 1.3 billion flowers blossom". Lovely imagery. Reminds me of Hosea ... I will love them freely... I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily; he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon; his shoots shall spread out; his beauty shall be like the olive, and his fragrance like Lebanon. They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow; they shall flourish like the grain; they shall blossom like the vine; their fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon. It is too easy to get sucked into all the ugliness- Covid, technology, devices of control and power, fake news, real news, 1994, Brave New World, failed Governments. The list goes on and on. So, thanks! Any mention of God's extraordinarily beautiful creation,( flowers/humans) if only even in a metaphorical form, is a pure breath of fresh air! Let 1.3 billion flowers blossom!


AO | 22 April 2021  

Hello John RD: thank you for being very polite in your responses to some of my posts, even though we disagree. You are correct that Francis sometime uses strong language and does make judgements - most notably in his condemnation of the arms trade. Catholic News Agency had this article on his stance: https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/36175/pope-dedicates-june-to-praying-for-an-end-to-the-arms-trade Dylan produced the anthem for our generation, although many of us would not subscribe to the last verse of Masters of War and I feel sure Francis would not subscribe to that verse either. The Catholic Church has (always?) been obsessed with matters relating to sex and, in comparison, ignored matters of peace and justice. The Church needs to get out of bedrooms and go more into boardrooms to address issues of peace and justice.


Joseph Fernandez | 22 April 2021  

HH: I haven't read Kung's book on Infallibility, though I have his "Does God Exist?". My generation was at university when Humanae Vitae came out, and, for many of us, that was the end of infallibility, although John XXIII's declaration that he was not infallible had previously helped. Rahner gave a guest lecture at our university, I've got to confess that I don't remember him getting into a deep discussion of infallibility but he too was clearly a real intellectual. HOWEVER ... :-) what I really want to do is take issue with your closing statement that you are praying for Hans Kung's soul. This to me is evocative of a judgmental God. I would rather hope that Hans Kung is "praying" for my soul - in the sense of trying to enlighten me further, rather than pleading my case with a judgmental God.


Joseph Fernandez | 22 April 2021  

HH – you are entitled to your opinion that teachings contained within Humanae Vitae are deserving of infallibility status. And, you are entitled to enlist Hans Kung's opinion as an unlikely ally. However, you are not entitled to claim that any HV teachings have actual infallible status. I draw to the attention of participants and readers of this discussion the following: One: during the Vatican Press conference which accompanied the official release of Humanae Vitae the issue of its infallible status was queried and rejected by the official spokesperson. Moreover, the possibility of a revision of teachings contained within HV was acknowledged in the light of further developments. These official comments have been allowed to stand without correction by Paul VI and his successors. Two: there was public support in the 1980's by a group of theologians sympathetic to your position for John Paul II to invest teachings contained within HV with infallible status. He never did and the publicity campaign lapsed.


Bill Burke | 23 April 2021  

Michael Furtado: ‘Firstly, he dumped on Ilya Delio, then resurrected her to claim support for his views from her university and Humanities colleague, Eugene McCarraher.’ Speaking of crossed wires – and it’s ‘Ilia’ btw - can you cite the post where this piece of fake news comes from?


roy chen yee | 23 April 2021  

Michael Furtado: ‘Marita will find that everything, in her manner of expression, lies on 'shifting ground', including Church doctrine, human rights discourse and indeed our very own human entelechy. To develop and grow are two absolute and incontestable features of our humanity.’ And Marita will find (if she doesn’t already know) that the ground is only shifting until the social Left deem that the ground has shifted enough, at which stage they will declare that it must not shift anymore, eg., that same sex marriage is now ‘settled’, ie., ‘develop and grow’ until they say ‘Stop.’ At the end of the day ‘progressives’ are as ossificationist as their opponents. So why not be honest and admit that the purpose of social debate is to locate the permanent (because functional) normal, not to worship (and conditionally, at that) some idolatry of movement?


roy chen yee | 23 April 2021  

Joseph: Both Scripture and the Church exhort us to "pray for the dead". Why then should we make an exception in the case of Hans Kung? This traditional practice of the faithful is enshrined liturgically in the Feast of All Soul (Nov 2nd).


John RD | 23 April 2021  

Michael Furtado: Today' reading from Acts on the conversion of Saul shows the hope and promise inherent in conversion to Christ - significantly more charitable, generous and liberating dispositions than one that keeps score in accordance with Julius Caesar's dictum: "The evil that men do lives after them." Mr Yiannopoulos might protest against Michael Furtado's latest dossier with Henry V's retort to the Dauphin: "See how he comes o'er us with our wilder days", or even contest some of the allegations contained therein.


John RD | 23 April 2021  

J.F.: thanks. Kung could be in one of three places – heaven, purgatory or hell. If he’s in purgatory, then my prayers will benefit him. If he’s graced to be in heaven, or has chosen hell for himself, then so be it: my prayers and those of John R.D., etc, are not otiose: they will be added to the treasury, and benefit some other soul or souls suffering – with joyful hope – the agonies of purgatory. It’s a win-win situation, mercifully arranged by the Just Judge. So I’ll go on praying for poor Hans Kung – brilliant, colourful and eminently readable, but tragically wrong and misleading on so many crucial points. And praying for myself, and for you, that at the last, we ourselves make the right choice. We’re all in this together ... up to that point! God bless.


HH | 23 April 2021  

Roy, 21 April: “... and leads to the second occasion within one thread of a burnt pot calling a kettle still on the shop shelf black.” Roy’s claim of shop shelf status in relation to Thackeray and Trollope is a bit wobbly when the shop shelf is glass surrounded by stones. I do recall Roy on another marriage related topic confusing his English King Edwards and mistaking E VI for E VIII. Easy enough to do, although kings who reach the eighth numeral do tend to have memorable views on marriage and blessings, to say the least. I still remember Roy’s remarkably succinct (for him) response: “My bad.” Mistakes are easy to make and I could sit here in my glass house all day pointing out other’s “light relationship to fact”, but it will be more constructive to take the dog for a walk.


Brett | 23 April 2021  

‘infallibility’: If you accept the narrative that Creation started perfect but was ruined, infallibility becomes a logical necessity for the agency that supervises/shepherds the return to perfection. If you accept a narrative that Creation began primitive and is perfecting itself through material and social evolution, experimentation from trial and error (situational ethics), rather than infallibility, becomes the logical necessity. But trial and error is costly and painful, which puts the moral character of an omniscient god into doubt. Why put humans on a painful path when, being omniscient, the god could have given them idyll from the very beginning? If the moral character of the omniscient god can be impugned, how can there be sin? Sin can only be against a god. Humans commit sins upon each other and, colloquially, it may be said that they sin against each other, but, unless you’re a pantheist believing a human is a god, you can only administer a sin to another human and you can only sin against god. What makes a sinner think that he, rather than an agency impartial of and external to himself, is the better judge of what is sin? What makes a sheep a shepherd?


roy chen yee | 24 April 2021  

Brett: ‘Roy’s claim of shop shelf status in relation to Thackeray and Trollope is a bit wobbly when the shop shelf is glass surrounded by stones….Mistakes are easy to make and I could sit here in my glass house all day pointing out other’s “light relationship to fact”, but it will be more constructive to take the dog for a walk.” Now that I’m aware of scrutiny by those who strain at gnats but swallow camels, I’ll admit to the error of ‘Couglin’ instead of ‘Coughlin'. But, the pot has nothing to do with mistaking Thackeray for Trollope. If Brett has been paying attention to how Michael Furtado responds, he will notice that Michael Furtado evades and misrepresents points made in opposed arguments (as well as is sloppy with facts) to the point that he embarrasses the honour of his PhD. Walk your dog more ‘constructively’ as a result of straining at gnats but swallowing camels and the RSPCA will have something to say to you.


roy chen yee | 24 April 2021  

Bill Burke: ‘infallibility’ The question is why a Roman Catholic would even want to dissent from an official understanding that has been held for such a long time. Prior to the decision to regard a teaching as fallible is the desire to find a teaching to be false. What’s with the desire? Pride? Don’t like to be told? When Christ the Good Shepherd vacated the scene, the sheep didn’t turn into shepherds. Neither did the shepherd job get turned over to an invisible shepherd in the Holy Spirit. Human shepherds were appointed and, shortly after, confirmed their status as a caste, if you like, by saying that charitable administration interfered with their duties and should henceforth be delegated to a lower level of authority, the diaconate. Anyway, the teaching is infallible: www.catholic.com/magazine/online-edition/is-humanae-vitae-infallible-teaching


roy chen yee | 24 April 2021  

John R.D. I was in a seminary in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s and used to read “Concilium” and “Communio” as they arrived. The disparity was astonishing. One was logical, respectful of tradition, beauty, order, culture, etc. The other was anarchic, devoid of reason, something like BLM on steroids. I’ll leave readers to guess which was which.


HH | 24 April 2021  

Brett: ‘remarkably succinct (for him)’ Succinct is a means, not an end. (7 words.) Meaning is the end. (11 words, because these 4 need the previous 7.) If you can do it succinctly, pat not yourself on the back but expect others to do so because a labourer is worthy of his hire. (37 words, because these 26 need the previous 11.)


roy chen yee | 25 April 2021  

Bill, thanks, but I’m going to hold your feet to the fire. As to 1.: is there an ancient and venerable tradition in the church, some common patristic teaching perhaps, that, where a papal spokesperson at a press conference says X and the Pope doesn’t contradict it, X is to be held as the Pope’s mind? Or that, as to 2: when some devout Catholics urge the Pope to elevate a church teaching to dogmatic status via an ex cathedra definition, and His Holiness declines to do so, this proves that the said teaching is not infallible, even if it meets the conditions of ordinary magisterium infallibility as laid out for example in L.g. 25 (and the long tradition it encapsulates)? As a close analogy: In “Ad tuendam fidem” (1998) para. 11, the C.D.F. stated (not in a mere press conference) that the rule restricting priestly ordination to men (as laid out, for example, in Pope John Paul 2’s “Ordinatio sacerdotalis” (1994)) was infallible. Pope John Paul 2 did not subsequently contradict the C.D.F. statement. By your criterion, the proposition of the C.D.F. that the restriction of priestly ordination to males is infallible is binding because the Pope who was the author of O.s. didn’t overrule the C.D.F. I don’t share that view. It is to be considered infallible notwithstanding the subsequent papal silence. Silence is neither here nor there. Like anyone else, a pope can remain silent for all sorts of reasons, good or bad. There’s no such thing in church teaching as an infallible silence! No: the teaching re. male priesthood in A.t.f. and O.s. is infallible because it meets the criteria for ordinary magisterium infallibility as set out, for example, in Vatican 2’s L.g. 25. As does the rule re. contraception in H.v. Kung held the same view on both issues (though he rejected infallibility in principle. Ergo …) BTW, I think there’s a very good argument, contra the un-thought-out, knee-jerk assertion of the H.v. spokesman Fr Lambruschini, that the rule against contraception in H.v. is indeed an ex cathedra definition. See for example Fr E. Lio’s thesis, “Humanae vitae and Infallibility”. Speaking of knees, how are the feet, Bill? Cheers.


HH | 25 April 2021  

I am not making an exception for Kung. As I thought I had made clear, I do not believe in a judgemental God, so I do not plead the case of others to God, but rather hope that others who have gone before - such as Kung - can continue to enlighten me. Maybe I need to ask them to enlighten me to express myself with more clarity and more charity. I would not want to rest - in peace or in any other state - at the end of this life. I doubt if Kung would want to either - there is too much to do. I would think he would want to continue his life of activism. It may be in some form that we do not understand in this life. But I don't think the main activity is pleading to a judgemental God.


Joseph Fernandez | 25 April 2021  

Roy – you are welcome to agree with Tom Nash's view( the source you quote at the end of your post) But it remains an opinion. The contrary opinion has been expressed by Cardinals, bishops and theologians in an ongoing discourse which is neither disrespectful to the Papal Magisterium nor insensitive to issues raised by opposing arguments. Pope Paul VI, the encyclical's author was clear in his willingness to allow dissenting opinion to be explored by professional theologians holding church university professorships and priests going about their tasks of pastoral care. Pope Francis captured a similar spirit in his closing address to his Synod on the Family. He says “The Synod experience also made us better realize that the true defenders of doctrine are not those who uphold its letter, but its spirit; not ideas but people; not formulae but the gratuitousness of God’s love and forgiveness. This is in no way to detract from the importance of formulae – they are necessary – or from the importance of laws and divine commandments, but rather to exalt the greatness of the true God, who does not treat us according to our merits or even according to our works but solely according to the boundless generosity of his Mercy.” - In this mode of interaction, differences of opinion are part of a journey to insights which further the Gospel message in our time.


Bill Burke | 26 April 2021  

Hello Joseph: I don't at all think your comments lack charity, though I do think the God revealed in Christ and by the Church is both just and merciful in making judgments about sin and in extending clemency: e.g., as instanced in the passage of the woman arrested for adultery and taken before Jesus, who judges and exposes her accusers' actions and her own, and mercifully frees her, saying: "Go now, and sin no more." (Jn 8:11). When I consider the wrongs done in the world, now and in the past, - some of them abominations that defy God's Commandments revealed and written into our nature, and some committed by members of the Church - they demand just judgment; and I don't think anyone can presume mercy for serious transgressions responsibly committed. If, in the eyes of some ES posters, this makes me a "fundamentalist", so be it (though I dispute the use of the word in this manner). I also continue to pray for the living and the dead, as instructed by Scripture and traditionally celebrated in Church practice. (Are you aware of serious criticisms of Hans Kung's theology made by his former scholarly companions and theologians, not all of them members of the CDF who revoked his licence to teach in the name of the Catholic Church)?


John RD | 26 April 2021  

HH – thank you for the offer of a little fireside warmth on these autumnal evenings. I'm surprised that your theological formation overlooked the importance of being attentive to the range of documents and differing levels of standing/importance attached to them that are issued by the Roman Magisterium. A set of protocols which was also attentive to what function the role official silence could play. Perhaps, a phone call to one of your former professors could address this lacuna for you. As to the issues of “Ad tuendam fidem” and the attendant CDF comments, I note the following: I will leave the issue of Ordination to the priesthood to a time when ES has hosted an article on that topic. I have commented on HV and its status because there is a direct link with that teaching and the issues which initiated Ross Jones's article. Call me old fashioned; but I believe these discussion threads should retain links with the stimulus article. However I do note that the list of moral issues that the then Card Ratzinger and CDF considered warranted infallible status did NOT include the teachings contained in Humanae Vitae – a point I think you should consider carefully.


Bill Burke | 26 April 2021  

Papal infallibility was man made with more than a little contrivance. Difficult to know whether the Creator accepts it as truth or just has a belly laugh every now and then when he contemplates the pretensions of those he created.


john frawley | 26 April 2021  

Hello, HH. The latest ACCR-conceived and partnered initiative of "3 Zoom convocations" planned to be staged concurrently with the Plenary Council that features in John Warhurst's "Plenary Council needs the Catholic community" (ES, 22/4/2021) gives rise to a sense of deja vu associated with well-documented manoeuvres employed during the sessions of Vatican II where the Church and the world witnessed the media casting of theologians - none of them bishops - as an autonomous coterie; an auspicious event with divisive effects which are still with us - especially on liturgy, ecclesiology and authority in the Church. I won't be in the Zoom stream, but hope to keep abreast of the PC 's deliberations through the channels ratified by the bishops.


John RD | 26 April 2021  

ES readers will, no doubt, join me in thanking Brett for his succinct and dignified intervention in this no-win debate with The Roy, and then retiring, unlike me, to walk his dog instead of being drawn into the realms of a calculus problem intended to tie us all up in knots. I too would choose the dog whose bodily functions - tail-wagging, greeting others and doing what all of us have to do in a day's work - are appropriately and discreetly conducted elsewhere, rather than liberally littered all over these pages.


Michael Furtado | 26 April 2021  

So John RD where should the boundaries of infallible teaching be drawn? On one hand are critics of "creeping infallibility," or a gradual expansion of the set of church teachings that lie beyond debate. On the other are those, including Benedict, who talked about "theological positivism,"- that there is such a sharp emphasis on formal declarations of infallibility that all other teachings, no matter how emphatically they've been defined, seem debatable. Bill Morris was removed from office May 2, allegedly because of a 2006 pastoral letter in which he suggested that, in the face of the priest shortage, the church may have to be open to the ordination of women, (as well as bringing them in from poor countries like Vietnam, Nigeria and India). He disclosed portions of a letter from Benedict informing him of the action, in which the pope says Pope John Paul II defined the teaching on women priests "irrevocably and infallibly." Now the question is, since Benedict resigned because he couldn't handle the emerging internal child sex abuse crisis (which even his older brother was indirectly involved in), in retrospect, are any of his declarations infallible at all? Was he not just a caretaker Pope? Wouldn't you think even now he is at Francis ear "a suggestion here, some guidance there?" Sharing a few pizza and a six pack of Santa Cristina? Then Bill Morris said that turn of phrase has him concerned about "creeping infallibility." Does Benedict's wording in the letter represent an aberration? echoing a 1995 statement from the CDF that asserted the teaching on women priests "has been set forth infallibly by JP2 in the ordinary and universal magisterium," as well as the congregation's 1998 document Ad Tuendam Fidem? (To Protect the Faith) is an apostolic letter of JP2 issued motu proprio on May 18, 1998). The reality is the Vatican discriminates against women in an unholy unhealthy way and it is that culture that has bred the covid plague of vile child sexual abuse in their midst. God has given women qualities and potential. So If they aren’t allowed to develop them, if they aren’t provided with equal opportunities to study, learn and rise within the church , it’s basically a live burial.


Francis Armstrong | 27 April 2021  

Michael Furtado: ‘dog whose bodily functions - tail-wagging, greeting others and doing what all of us have to do in a day's work - are appropriately and discreetly conducted elsewhere, rather than liberally littered all over these pages.’ Apart from the fact that tail-wagging and greeting can’t be liberally littered over these pages, ‘discreetly’ is the exact opposite of what makes tail-wagging and greeting those elements of joy that make dogs so beloved of humans. I suppose I should be happy this reply isn’t intended to make a serious contribution to debate because factual and metaphorical inaccuracies, and conflation of sentences, never make serious contribution to debate. And I’m not sure it’s really thanking Brett to expect him to swallow this camel.


roy chen yee | 28 April 2021  

Thank you, John RD, for continuing to be very polite and respectful in our disagreement. I suspect that we are not going to agree - unless one or other or both of us hit the road to Damascus. NCR, I believe, ran an article saying the Vatican had opened a secret file on Hans Kung. Instead of praying that he Rest in Peace, I rather hope for Kung, you and me to meet in a future life to continue this discussion in the same cordial spirit over a glass or two of whatever (Swiss?) beverage is on offer. In "Does God exist?" Kung writes: "...For the justification of his own scandalous talk and behaviour, therefore, Jesus appeals to a quite different Father God: a strange God and - as it seemed to many of his contemporaries and especially to those in power - even a dangerous, a really impossible God: - a God who sets himself above the righteousness of the law, has a higher righteousness proclaimed and justifies the lawbreakers..... ....- a God who identifies himself with the weak, sick, poor, underprivileged, oppressed, even with the irreligious, immoral and godless." John's Gospel account of the woman arrested for adultery seems to be a case unique in human history since apparently no man was involved - the Scribes and Pharisees did not also drag along a man. And then there is the Canaanite woman who with her persistence, humility, and humour apparently convinces Jesus that he was not speaking ex cathedra in his initial response to her and gets Jesus to completely reverse his initial response.


Joseph Fernandez | 28 April 2021  

Hello Joseph: That's a convivial and hopeful prospect you envisage, though I imagine any conversation in the house of heaven will be accompanied by as many beverages as there are mansions, and will be a bit less speculative than our current understanding - "as through a glass, darkly" - permits. In the scene of the adulterous woman (the inequality of the arrest you imply aside), when Jesus says to her: "Go, and sin no more", I don't see any suggestion that he's setting aside the law of the God-given Decalogue: "Thou shalt not commit adultery", also discernible by means of natural law morality. Rather, he's placing the prescriptive Mosaic law consequences in the context of expressing his and his heavenly Father's liberating forgiveness and mercy (as well, of course, in the same event, as making a judgment call on the disingenuousness of the woman's accusers in trying to set a trap for him). Regarding the other scene you mention here, I don't think it's a matter of any "ex cathedra" statement or reversal on Jesus' part - his changed response when the woman persist suggests, rather, that he's testing her faith in the possibly teasing tone of her retort to his initial rebuff.


John RD | 29 April 2021  

Bill Burke: ‘differences of opinion are part of a journey’ Well, I don’t know how you can pick up an encyclical in which the first heading reads ‘Problem and competency of the Magisterium’, the heading to Section 6 reads ‘The magisterium’s reply’ and Section 6 ends with ‘Consequently, now that We have sifted carefully the evidence sent to Us and intently studied the whole matter, as well as prayed constantly to God, We, by virtue of the mandate entrusted to Us by Christ, intend to give Our reply to this series of grave questions’ and believe that there is a journey.


roy chen yee | 29 April 2021  

Bill: “However I do note that the list of moral issues that the then Card Ratzinger and CDF considered warranted infallible status did NOT include the teachings contained in Humanae Vitae.” How refreshing to spar with an opponent here who actually knows a bit of what they’re on about and (phew) has a gentle sense of humour! But, Bill, you as a black belt exegetical cognoscens will admit that the list in the C.D.F. commentary is not intended to be exhaustive. It’s a handful of examples, singled out to illustrate how in particular ways various teachings (those that were flaming in Cardinal Ratzinger’s time as Prefect of the C.D.F., I’d surmise) are in fact L.g. 25 infallible. So it’s not hard: if you connect the dots, then it’s easy to see that the teaching in H.v., as that against women priests, meets the criterion of ordinary magisterium infallibility, as Kung famously pointed out. And also heaps of others. BTW: Most of my lecturers are dead, R.I.P., and my own memory fades. Can you refer us to magisterial documents grounding the theological significance of papal silence, and how hoi polloi might distinguish between a papal silence which is binding, one which is imprudent, and one which is just plain chicken-hearted (I’ve forgotten the latin term)? Keep them feet warm!


HH | 30 April 2021  

“I do not believe in a judgemental God.” J.F.: isn’t implying, without more evidence, that someone you disagree with theologically must believe in a “judgemental” God, itself a bit … well … judgemental?


HH | 30 April 2021  

Roy – You seem to be happy to quote one instance of Paul VI's exercise of his ordinary Papal magisterium in citing parts of Humanae Vitae but you refuse to consider why the same Pope allowed respectful but dissenting views to be discussed throughout the rest of his pontificate. Should that remain your preference – then, there is little left to discuss: over to you?


Bill Burke | 30 April 2021  

HH - Retuning to the CDF commentary attached to “Ad tuendam fidem” - you are right in saying it provides a non exhaustive list, but off the mark in implying HV was not one of those teaching that you characterise “... were flaming in Cardinal Ratzinger’s time as Prefect of the C.D.F.,” There is evidence in the background discussions of John Paul II's Synod on the Family, discussions, in theological journal articles and agendas of theological associations throughout the 1980's into the 90's, the earlier mentioned “push” by some for HV to be declared an infallible teaching, the content of the Cologne Declaration – all witness to ongoing reflection on the standing of HV – and point to why it could not be listed in Card Ratzinger's list of infallible teachings. As to your query about interpreting the theological significance of papal silence – In deference to our host's expectation of word limit - three points( briefly stated). One, The published documents of the International Theological Commission provide a good general orientation. Two, be aware that the Magisterium -Ordinary and Extraordinary - frequently pass silently over previous official and binding teachings when installing an updated/ “developed” teaching. The most obvious recent example would be Pius XI's “Mortalium Animos” Teachings contained within were supplanted by Vatican II Decrees, as well as teachings and practises of Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis. The third is an example which comes from the career of Pere Lagrange OP – the founder of the Ecole Biblique – I leave it to you to uncover how interpreting Papal Silence was utilised to allow his career to continue and flourish – as it indeed did.


Bill Burke | 01 May 2021  

Bill Burke: ‘happy to quote one instance”: I would have said three instances within the document which implied magisterium. ‘of Paul VI's exercise of his ordinary Papal magisterium’: Perhaps you can clear up an ambiguity. Did you mean to say ‘of his ordinary Papal magisterium’ or ‘of his supposed ordinary Papal magisterium’? Our conversation is redundant if you believe the pope was exercising magisterial authority, unless you’re also arguing that exercising magisterial authority is neither here nor there because yesterday’s magisterium could be wrong today. ‘refuse to consider why the same Pope allowed respectful but dissenting views to be discussed throughout the rest of his pontificate.’ How quickly after your first respectful dissent from holiness (ie. your first dissembling of conscience) does God send you a thunderbolt? Straight away? After your second respectful dissembling? After your umpteenth? After the first backsliding after your confession? After your umpteenth backsliding after your umpteenth confession? If Jesus does what he sees the Father is doing, shouldn’t the Pope do the same? And, as for Father Lambruschini: https:// www.catholicweekly.com.au/50-years-after-humanae-vitae/


roy chen yee | 01 May 2021  

Michael Furtado: “Dives who, given to the 'cheap grace'….“ Another example of Furtado, PhD’s inexplicable (unless intentional) inability to report the facts (in this case, easily adduced from the story) as they are. Dives was in Hell because he practised no grace in this life. In Hell, he requested an apparition to confront his brothers. That could be considered trying to angle some kind of reward from the cheap grace of perhaps fake concern. However, no grace was practised while he was alive. Is it too much to ask Michael the academic to practise the most fundamental level of perception, viz., reporting things as they happen?


roy chen yee | 03 May 2021  

Roy – My comments of April 30 stand without qualification. In response to your comment, could I suggest you spend a little time considering the teachings on conscience of any or all of the following saints ; Thomas Aquinas, Alphonsus Ligouri or John Henry Newman. Their thoughts may help you to develop a more optimistic view of conscience and its role in the lives of Catholics.


Bill Burke | 03 May 2021  

I did not say that I am not judgemental. That is still a very much a Work in Progress in my case. What I meant to suggest rather, was that the God I believe in is not judgemental.


Joseph Fernandez | 04 May 2021  

Bill, I’ll get back to your latest response (thanks) re. papal silence perhaps early next week. By the way, back to your earlier comment re. Lambruschini, ”These official comments have been allowed to stand without correction by Paul VI and his successors.” Well, that’s a point of view. 1. Curial official Lambruschini’s remarks re. the non-infallible status of H.v. were, the very next day, conspicuously absent from the official record of the press conference, published in L’Osservatore Romano. Hmmm! 2. And shortly after, Lambruschini was removed from his teaching position. I would say this response to Lambruschini is an example, not so much of Papal silence as of Papal silenc-ing! Much less ambiguous, no? Alert: E.S. readers with their characteristically open minds to the truth will appreciate an intriguing, lucid and easy-to-follow proof by Fr. Brian Harrison O.S. that H.v. was actually an ex cathedra definition (over and above satisfying LG 25 ordinary magisterium infalliblity criteria), and that Lambruschini episode, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=me_TQBIWWpY


HH | 04 May 2021  

I remember, years ago, being told on a secular Buddhist retreat that there was a support group in Northern NSW for Recovering Catholics. I think a lot of us who went through the system in the 1960s spent years recovering. The Jesuits I remember from those years were mostly hyper conservative. When I changed to a superb Anglican school in Year 11, I breathed easier. The moral atmosphere in my previous school was stultifying. At my last school it was well known that some of the boys were gay. They were not regarded as 'inherently disordered' which is probably why they ended up sane. No one was persecuted because of their sexuality but sex between boys would have resulted in expulsion. It seems very sensible to me, especially for the time. I must confess to being an old fashioned male heterosexual who has tried to live a decent moral life. The example of my father, an Anglican, has done more for me than much preaching. I have been much influenced by the writing of Richard Holloway, the former Anglican Bishop of Edinburgh, who, like Pope Francis, is a pastoral person. Of course you have to have 'the rules' and follow them, but you don't need to be a bigot. I admire John RD for this.


Edward Fido | 05 May 2021  

HH – I have three responses to your May 4 post. One; Your source on Mgr Lambruscini has led you to an inaccurate conclusion; Mgr Lambruscini worked at what was later known as the CDF from 1952 to 1968. Additionally, he held a teaching post at the Lateran from 1957 to 1968. On Oct 15,1968, Paul VI appointed him Archbishop of Perugia where he remained until his death in 1981. So, far from removing him from influence, Paul VI made him a lifelong member of the church's universal magisterium. Two: Re Fr Brian Harrison's opinion. From your presentation Fr Harrison appears ignorant of an essential fact: In Catholic Doctrine there is no such thing as an ex cathedra definition that was not proclaimed by a Pope explicitly invoking the ex cathedra formula – you may wish to check Vatican I's “ Pastor aeternus.” Three: It is not in my remit to try and change your mind on the status of HV. - but to challenge the accuracy of some of your claims. As our discussion is drifting further from Ross Jones article, I propose to retire from the discussion at this point. Every good wish.


Bill Burke | 05 May 2021  

Bill Burke (May 3): www.americamagazine.org/faith/2018/04/06/what-official-church-teaching-homosexuality-responding-commonly-asked-question in which Father James Martin does not discuss ‘just’ discrimination when the context would allow him to. ‘Fifthly, in response to liberal tendencies of his day, Newman insisted that Christians must form their consciences in accord with the Scriptures, Tradition and magisterium.’ (Abp. Anthony Fisher, www.sydneycatholic.org/addresses-and-statements/2019/conscience-relativism-and-truth-the-witness-of-newman/). Given that Tradition is documented by the Magisterium, without the Magisterium there is no Tradition and without Tradition, what is the pedigree that makes an opposing theory ‘equiprobabilistic’ (St Alphonsus Liguori)? Aquinas (‘The consuetudo ecclesiae — the practice of the Church — should prevail over the authority of any doctor (Summa II-II:10:12)’: New Advent Encyclopedia newadvent.org Article 6): 'Objection 2. Further, the will is always good, when it abides by the commandment of God and the eternal law. But the eternal law and God's commandment are proposed to us by the apprehension of the reason, even when it errs. Therefore the will is good, even when it abides by erring reason. Reply to Objection 2. The eternal law cannot err, but human reason can. Consequently the will that abides by human reason, is not always right, nor is it always in accord with the eternal law.'


roy chen yee | 05 May 2021  

Hello, Edward. I can't say that my Jesuit schooling in the same era as your own was an unhappy one at all, but neither that I was beyond some of the bigoted assumptions, especially sectarian ones, of the day. (We knew, of course, and still do, the Irish are God's chosen people!) One thing among many for which I'm still grateful was the Jesuits' public and unexceptional commitment as a staff to the Pope and magisterium, and their insistence that assumptions underlying attitudes we displayed towards a range of issues, moral and social, were subjected to rational scrutiny - I'm still edgy when I hear bald claims that a Jesuit education did not teach us what to think, but rather how to think - as Catholic and Ignatian, it did both; it was not a-dogmatic, though it did, within reasonable limits, respect freedom. In my final years, topics such as the existence of God, the Church's teaching on marriage and sexual morality, magisterial authority, our obligations to the poor - still highly relevant today - were formally debated in "Religious Knowledge", as it was then called; and it was obvious even then that some of my peers adopted the contrary stances they did not merely for the sake of providing an opposition argument. I can by no means claim to have divested myself of all bigotry, but I'd like to think I can recognise it and at least modify its influence appropriately when it arises. There are, I find, sufficient admonitors in "Eureka Street" postings to signal alerts when I need them, though I do remain sceptical and unmoved when 'listening' and 'openness' are urged as synonyms for agreement on matters where I differ with interlocutors. And I do expect, in the spirit and manner of a "Christian gentleman" proposed to us by our school mentors, to extend courtesy and civility in argument, even towards those with whom we may find ourselves in serious and unresolved disagreement. Still not a bad rule of civil discourse, I'd say.


John RD | 06 May 2021  

Listening last week to Sr Joan Chittister and her Eight Spiritual Mountains colloquy, I was taken by her remark that a spirituality centred on sin and negation misses out on the love of God. She also reflected that unless we build an inclusive Church the spirituality we alternatively offer is no more than a psychedelic dream! Interestingly, when Cardinal Keith O'Brien of Edinburgh & St Andrews was outed as a homosexual, it was Bishop Richard Holloway of the Scottish Episcopalians, cited here by Edward, who offered Cardinal O'Brien refuge at his home in the midst of a clamour to force Cardinal O'Brien's resignation and to expel him from his beloved Scotland. In the end he was banished across the border to Northumberland, where he died of a broken heart very soon afterwards. Homosexual persons are God's Creation, endowed with the capacity and challenge to love like all of humankind and to do so to the fullest, which, given that we are as carnal as straight people, challenges the Church to think again about how the persecution of homosexual persons drives some of us to seek solace in surreptitious sexual practices instead of building open, healthy, exclusive and committed marital relationships.


Michael Furtado | 06 May 2021  

www.americamagazine.org/faith/2018/04/06/what-official-church-teaching-homosexuality-responding-commonly-asked-question in which Father James Martin does not discuss ‘just’ discrimination when the context would allow him to. ‘Fifthly, in response to liberal tendencies of his day, Newman insisted that Christians must form their consciences in accord with the Scriptures, Tradition and magisterium.’ (Abp. Anthony Fisher, www.sydneycatholic.org/addresses-and-statements/2019/conscience-relativism-and-truth-the-witness-of-newman/). Given that Tradition is documented by the Magisterium, without the Magisterium there is no Tradition and without Tradition, what is the pedigree that makes an opposing theory ‘equiprobabilistic’ (St Alphonsus Liguori)? Aquinas (‘The consuetudo ecclesiae — the practice of the Church — should prevail over the authority of any doctor (Summa II-II:10:12)’: New Advent Encyclopedia newadvent.org Article 6): Objection 2. Further, the will is always good, when it abides by the commandment of God and the eternal law. But the eternal law and God's commandment are proposed to us by the apprehension of the reason, even when it errs. Therefore the will is good, even when it abides by erring reason. Reply to Objection 2. The eternal law cannot err, but human reason can. Consequently the will that abides by human reason, is not always right, nor is it always in accord with the eternal law.


roy chen yee | 07 May 2021  

We are roughly contemporaries, John RD, though I think you are a few years younger. I went to secondary school in Melbourne and you in Sydney. I think I was at my Jesuit school at the most difficult years of adolescence, the time you should mature and start the difficult process of becoming a man. I am not sure that the school as it was then helped, although they tried. Religious instruction was very old fashioned and didactic. It was woefully uninspiring. My Anglican school had a much lighter and more wholesome atmosphere. It was not guilt ridden. The manipulation of guilt as a tool was, I think, one of the worst features of 1960s Catholicism. It was execrable and did not, in my opinion, form mature consciences. In many instances it embittered and warped. Those days are gone and hopefully will not return. I am pleased that many Catholics survived those years with sanity, like yourself. Religion should be sane! Jesus was definitely not a wacko. Some of his supposed followers are. I am for Sane Christianity. Ross Jones is trying to present Sane Christianity. The article is not all about same sex relationships and respecting same sex attracted people. There's a lot more in there. I applaud him.


Edward Fido | 07 May 2021  

Bishop Richard Holloway: The ‘rainbow of religious belief’, ‘There are as many expressions of religious faith as there are of gender and sexuality’ former primus who has returned to Christianity (‘without God’) because the message of Jesus ‘can make a difference’ in world affairs? Leaving aside the fact that without God, Jesus is a long-extinct Semite whose message of peace is no better or worse than the message of Gandhi? As a matter of curiosity, there was no other Anglican ecclesiastic to serve as template for ‘moderation’? I’m sure Bishop Holloway is a warm and delightful exemplar of charity but he‘s not exactly persuasive. The reason why Jesus was persuasive about letting the disciples break the Sabbath rule to pick and eat corn is because he did not do the same himself. A champion of heterodoxy cannot himself be heterodox or the message fails. The champion has to be orthodox so he can make a merciful dispensation, which an ex-agnostic now Godless Christian isn’t and can't. That’s how the theatre of persuasion plays. www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/nov/13/the-rainbow-of-religious-belief-why-extremist-thinking-doesnt-work-richard-holloway www.dailymail.co.uk/home/books/article-8531625/Former-Bishop-Edinburgh-reveals-moving-Church-agnostic.html


roy chen yee | 07 May 2021  

The rapid and far-reaching change that characterised the '60s certainly impacted on youth and staff in Catholic schools in that era and not always constructively, Edward. Jesuit schools were not exempt from what was happening outside their gates, nor from questions that events like the availability of illegal drugs, the sexual revolution Vietnam War and youth suicide that same period threw up, existentially and academically. I was grateful schools like my own debated them and provided spiritual guidance. I'm also aware that in that same tumultuous decade there emerged from both St Patrick's East Melbourne and Xavier College fine Jesuits, including Maurice Heading, Michael Head, Michael Ryan, Stephen Sinn and the recently retired Provincial, Brian McCoy - all, I'd say from their various ministries, very sane, faithful and pastorally responsive priests.


John RD | 08 May 2021  

Hello Edward and John RD: thank you for sharing your old schoolyard experiences. I didn’t go to the Jesuits. I went to a Christian Brother’s junior secondary tech school (for lads good with their hands); the Brothers then sent clever kids, and those wanting to be priests, onto to their academic school for Leaving and Matriculation. They must have picked me out as a clever kid because I didn’t want to become a priest, and I was no good with my hands. In our last year at the tech we had to make a vice in the machine shop. At the end of the year I took my construction to the teacher - a strict disciplinarian - to be marked. He burst out laughing. The lads were in disbelief because nobody had ever seen him laugh; in his class we lived in fear. But he gave me a bare pass for trying hard. My father was a factory worker and did really have the money to send me to the Jesuits. We were more or less “underprivileged”, what Jesuits like to champion in their writings, social justice talk and conferences. Just out of interest: how much are school fees at St Aloysius these days? Do you think the Jesuits would make a contribution social justice if they were to close down their elite schools? That would put everybody on a level playing field, as the capitalists like to say.


Fosco | 08 May 2021  

Fosco: In my seven years of Jesuit schooling, and my four brothers', from a single-income six-child household on a barman's wages, it was the norm to see mothers of students arriving at the school on pushbikes (and not straight from the gym), on public transport, or on foot, for meeting their voluntary tuckshop roster commitments. I'd be quite confident, Fosco, St Aloysius' College - or any other Jesuit school for that matter, would be happy to furnish you with their current fee-structure and scholarship opportunities should you inquire. Further, a number of my friends and peers who attended Christian and Marist Brothers Schools benefited greatly from their education, some pursuing highly serviceable political careers, some rising high in the public service, some becoming distinguished professionals, others becoming very successful self-employed businessmen and tradesmen, others entering religious orders, and others becoming priests.


John RD | 09 May 2021  

Hello John RD: finally we have come to what it’s all about: the 60’s! Christianity has never recovered. We too were told to fear the “illegal drugs, the sexual revolution Vietnam War and youth suicide” right outside our school gates. But it was a lie. Australia has had a drugs and alcohol problem since 1788, to quote Neville Wran. The Vietnam War was a war crime. Australia was an assistant mass murderer in the killing field of three million Vietnamese people seeking self- determination in post- Colonial Indo China. This protection payment to Empire is not “just war”. The 60’s songmen, however musically and lyrically eloquent, making profits for the record companies is not the 60’s. Bob Dylan was not the compass setter. Pope John was!!! Bonhoeffer agreed. Incredible but true! Let me explain. These deeply Christian men witnessed the 20th century death of over 100 million, Auschwitz, collapse of societies, economic depression and the ever present great men of History seeking immorality by brutality. John and Dietrich made the call something had to change: in the 60’s it began too. When I ventured outside the school gates I found a Civil Rights Movement, a Women’s Right Movement, a War is a Crime Movement and a few other strange ones. One of the strange movements was that we had the right to not be psychologically oppressed, emotionally and sexually oppressed. Abuse by fear was the weapon of choice for this type of oppression. The problem with Christianity was that it was part of the problem. Especially with the last one: that’s was happening inside the school gates.


Fosco | 09 May 2021  

Which ones do you have in mind when you mention "elite" schools, Fosco? Do you mean those whose curriculum and entrance requirements are determined by a wealth qualification only, and an ideology of entitlement on the part of their school boards to maintain an exclusivist plutocratic environment? Some such schools have already ceased to be Jesuit-owned and administered - a policy implemented years ago by the Order's General, Fr Pedro Arrupe who made it incumbent on all Jesuit schools to align and justify their existences according to the decrees of contemporary General Congregations that oriented Jesuit ministries decisively towards the service of the poor - with and on behalf of them. In Australia, Jesuit schools exist in materially rich and poor areas; the students of schools in wealthier environments have placed before them constantly their obligations to the poor by a range of hands-on service experiences and in the discernment of vocational choices. I'm not aware of statistics on how many Jesuit alumni work with and for the poor after their schooling, but I am aware of a number who do, whose social consciences and the actions they produce were significantly developed by family influence and their schooling.


John RD | 10 May 2021  

Bill, you’re free to go of course. But I submit that the teaching in H.v., its theological status, and its background assumptions, is extremely relevant to the evaluation of Fr Jones’ post. As Elizabeth Anscombe argued in her debate with Dominican theologians way back in 1968: if you accept contraceptive intercourse, logically you should accept same-sex activity. To put it bluntly: if contraception is permissible, what does it matter which way I get my sexual pleasure? Why does a husband and wife HAVE to perform just the marital act, albeit contracepted, and not some other completed sexual act which may give them heaps more pleasure? Etc, etc. If H.v. is right, then Fr Jones is wrong. But then on another level: if one can’t even distinguish impotence from infertility, as Fr Jones evinces re. himself, how the dickens has one any standing in a discussion, from a natural law or Catholic point of view, about the morality of same-sex relations? OK, SCOTUS justice Sonia Sotomayor was notoriously oblivious to the distinction, even as she was deciding on a crucial case a few years back; after all, she was a product your average Catholic school education (why don’t they teach about sex and the relevant categories? It’s not as if the kids wouldn’t be interested!) But … a learned Jesuit?


HH | 10 May 2021  

Bill, 1. Vatican II doesn’t contradict Mortalium animos. Their definitions of ecumenism differ, so that the two teachings can be reconciled. It is still illicit for a Catholic to be associated with a body (say, Freemasons or the like) which proposes a new pan-church which suppresses doctrinal differences and proclaims merely a core set of teachings upon which all agree. As M.a. taught. So no significant silence there. Of course, I prefer M.a. to all the VII statements on the topic. Much more honest and less weasly. 2. As regards Pere Lagrange: historical criticism is not, has not been, and never can be, a doctrine of the Church. The silence re. the work of Pere Lagrange and the ( IMO disastrous) inroads of historical criticism he effected (albeit he may have been sincere in his efforts, and a very good and pious man – heck, none of us is perfect!) can be a point of discussion. But it has nothing to do with official, binding church teaching. BTW, Paul V and Urban VIII, condemning Galileo, taught that geocentrism was a doctrine of the Church. Consistent with scripture, the unanimous consent of the Church fathers, Hildegard of Bingen, Thomas Aquinas, Robert Bellarmine, etc. No pope - not even JPII - has explicitly “supplanted” their teaching in any formal way. So, is that a siginificant silence in your books? As a geocentrist, following the science of Einstein (general relativity) and Ernst Mach, etc, and above all the teaching of the magisterium so far, for my part I think it should be considered so! What say you? 3. I don’t think you’ve understood Fr Harrison’s point. Even according to Pastor Aeternus, you don’t need silver trumpets, ostrich feathers, clouds of incense and wordy phrases to announce an ex cathedra papal definition. You just need the pope to rule definitively on a matter of faith or morals. It was obviously done in H.v., as the pope said he would do in para. 6 and then did in para. 14. Cheers.


HH | 10 May 2021  

Fosco. I can't say I see it as "all about the '60s". It was an influential decade, no doubt, that had lasting impact on societal attitudes and behaviours, particularly in the affluent West. At best, for me, the '60s provided relevant criticisms of various forms of excess; at worst, they indulged and perpetuated the very excesses they criticised. The key issue today, I'd suggest, is to ground ourselves in relationship with Christ - as people of faith in his Church have throughout the centuries in times of crisis; and to do what we can to dispose our lives to the service of Christ's constant call.


John RD | 10 May 2021  

Hello John RD: congratulations on your personal journey in education, swimming upstream against the odds. I say the sincerely. A discussion on the future of religious education, class privilege and all that? No, not really: too big a question. But, I am happy to turn up to a conference if you want to organize one. It’s been over a decade since I last visited Sydney. Traffic was terrible but the harbor and Blue Mountains as beautiful as ever. Don’t worry about me; I will not be an embarrassment. I have been an apprentice nerd - many incarnations ago.


Fosco | 10 May 2021  

Very kind of you Fosco. I've long since relocated from Sydney, and the prospects of organising a conference are remote; though I hope to continue writing, and am encouraged to see a growing awareness - and not just among Catholics - of the issues that impress me, and evidently you, as important.


John RD | 11 May 2021  

Fosco is appropriately send-uppish, but there's much more to aim for in the solar plexus in the form of the social and class-reproduction that schools like Xavier, St Iggy's & St Allo's perpetuate that no amount of Jesuit influence can help mitigate. As a product of an elite Jesuit education, I can assure you that from the moment one enters their hallowed portals everything on show surreptitiously counters the proclaimed values of a Catholic school. That the hidden curriculum, promoted widely by parents, Old Boys and society in general, does its very best to actively stymie and drown out the gallant voices of some of the priests and others who teach there is in practical terms unquestionable. Look ye first to the social cache from which such schools draw their 'clientele'. How many can meet the hurdle of paying what Iggy's charges: 'Over 16k tuition $16,940 to $20,130. boarding additional $13,180 to $14,730' (Sic). Add to that the circles in which the students and their parents and grandparents mix, where they live, how they speak and the code of behaviour/conduct regarding their affairs (who they marry, how much they earn, etc) and the Jesuits are on a hiding to nothing!


Michael Furtado | 11 May 2021  

HH – A rejoinder in four parts. One: I leave it to fair minded readers to adjudicate our differences of opinion about Mortalium animos and Vat II's Decree on Ecumenism: there is nothing subtle about detecting differences between prohibitions and permissions. Two: Your section on Biblical Criticism and Galileo is far from clear. Perhaps a reference to the Vatican Observatory publication on the Galileo Affair could help. Three: You have a more relaxed attitude with the ease with which infallible statements can be made since Vatican I, than the 1917 Code of Canon Law and the Current Code. Four: I think you are right in recognising the blunt implications which flow from setting aside the operative teachings in section 14 of Humanae Vitae. But, that awareness did not impede those Council Fathers who spoke in favour of a revision of the teaching during Vatican II, nor has it impeded bishops and theologians calling for its revision after the publication of HV.


Bill Burke | 11 May 2021  

Hi Fosco, Very, very interesting about what you said about your Christian Brothers' education. A friend of mine, whilst coming to the end of his primary schooling with the Brothers, persuaded his parents to let him go to Melbourne High School, which was as good as any GPS school and actually had a very good moral tone under Principals like Bill Woodfull. It was certainly not atheistic or immoral, as Catholic students were brainwashed into believing all state schools were. Fr Bob Maguire, an exemplary Christian and an Old Boy of a CBC school, believes everyone should go through the same school system to prevent sectarianism. Sadly, in these days of militant atheism, I am not sure that would be a good thing. I believe Catholic primary schools, now staffed by normal lay people, are a very good thing. I think they should be open to all. I do believe that some exceptional secondary schools, such as Sydney Grammar and Scotch, Melbourne do provide a benchmark. I believe they should strive for a 'needs blind' entrance policy. Their finances could bear it. I don't think the best Jesuit schools are quite up to that mark, but they are pretty close.


Edward Fido | 12 May 2021  

Bill. 1. M.a. forbids Catholics from associating with Masonic-style pan-church groups, while VII commendably urges Catholics to discuss points of agreement and difference with non-Catholics in a spirit of charity. (As I do every time a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witnesses team arrives at my door - usually to their astonishment, poor things. I give the Mormons a glass of orange juice because they are not allowed to drink boiled beverages such as tea or coffee. What do you do?) So readers may want to ask: where exactly is the discrepancy between M.a. and VII ? 2. Am I to understand that the Vatican Observatory is part of the magisterium? When did that happen? Talk about creeping infallibility! And are you aware that Galileo, in a letter discovered, I believe, in 1960, recanted his heliocentrism towards the end of his life? (Even if he didn’t, it wouldn’t matter, but just sayin’). 3. I don’t agree. In H.v. 14, Pope Paul VI fulfilled Canon 749:1 . He proclaimed by a definitive act a doctrine to be held concerning faith or morals (here, morals). He said he would do so in H.v. 6. What’s there to argue? 4. So, let me pick your mind in all charity. You believe that according to the Catholic Church, same-sex acts (and masturbation, bestiality, etc? … where do you draw the line?) are morally acceptable. Despite the unbroken teaching of scripture, the unanimous consent of the Church Fathers and the universal consent of the ordinary magisterium (LG 25) over the last two millennia. You know what you and those who agree with you are saying, Bill? That the purported divinely inspired magisterium of the Catholic Church is a complete crock. If your belief turns out to be true, then I agree. Cheers.


HH | 12 May 2021  

Michael Furtado's sweeping indictment of several Jesuit schools in Australia and his abject underestimation of the influence of Jesuits within them are based exclusively on extrinsic and misjudged classist perceptions. Ask the Jesuits in India and the Asia-Pacific region how they have been able to establish and are able to maintain schools among the poor or provide assistance to refugees, for instance; and their gratitude for the regular support they receive from the schools he mentions, and others. Michael might also care to consider the responsiveness of the schools' he castigates student, parent and alumni clientele in times of crisis such as bushfire and flood in our own land, or to the Jesuit primary school, Jarjum College in Redfern.


John RD | 12 May 2021  

John RD shows yet again his ability to shimmy smoothly, but never unerringly, between two mutually exclusive and contradictory sites of missionary endeavour - in this instance the three Jesuit GPS (or HMC) schools in Australia that I cited in my prior post and some others, auspiced by the Jesuits of Hazaribagh and Chota Nagpur (India) and another school (Jargum) for Aboriginal children in Redfern. Despite my explaining in explicitly illustrative detail just how pernicious and self-serving elite schools can be, regardless of the best efforts of the many gallant people who serve in them, John seeks to turn this commonly-known and embarrassing example of some Catholics - by no means all of them Jesuit - valiantly trying to blend our supposedly Gospel-based ethos with that of the world's powerful and mighty who operate similar exclusive and unreservedly 'elite' school establishments, into an attack against the Louis LaChals and Pedro Arrupes of this world. As usual, its nice to know that John's response to my posts follows the observation of John Kenneth Galbraith, who ruefully remarked: 'It is a far, far better thing to have a firm anchor in nonsense than to put out on the troubled seas of thought'.


Michael Furtado | 13 May 2021  

Hello Edward: yes I agree, catholic schools should, are and need to go down that path, even if there will be difficulties along the way. Fr Bob’s “practical Catholicism” is a strength. That’s what has built the awesome 250.000 workers, Catholic services across education, health and welfare. Even the militant atheists accept that.


Fosco | 13 May 2021  

Australia, the Catholic Church in it and the world have changed radically since the Second Vatican Council. I was finishing school about that time. I must confess, due to my own reaction to the rather dead and stilted religious example and teaching I had from some, not all, religious and lay teachers, I was underwhelmed by the setup. Religious bigotry and the teaching and belief (quite incorrect) that all Protestants would go to Hell, which included my father, turned me off. That was sad, because, in a better situation, I might have been inspired. People did try to be kind and nurturing, including a couple of wonderful old Irish Jesuits, but I think the then Rector was a weak man and you need strength to deal with the barbarism that can come out in all boys' schools. The late Sir Brian Hone, Headmaster of my last school, knighted for his services to Australian education, was definitely not weak. He had abolished both corporal punishment in the senior school, as well as bullying in general, except for School House, a boarding house, but even they would only go so far and risk expulsion. He was a wonderful man, an Australian Dr Arnold. I still have enormously happy memories of the place 50 years on. So have most of us. It was a happy environment. I am glad that so many from the Jesuit place turned out so well. It was, I think, family example. These days there are far fewer Australian Jesuits. I think they are doing wonderful work. It is their duty to speak out on issues such as they do. As they are not subject to the local, with some exceptions, ghastly and substandard diocesan bishops (the Anglicans are just as mediocre) I am glad they do.


Edward Fido | 13 May 2021  

HH – Pius XI's Mortalium Animos is one of the shorter papal encyclicals -barely three pages – so readers can readily see for themselves that your representation of his teachings is less than adequate: Catholics were prohibited from joining non Christian assemblies - of the worship or study variety. Readers with a consciousness that reaches back to the nineteen fifties and further will recall the obligation on Catholics to seek a dispensation from their Parish Priest before they attended a Protestant wedding or funeral service. Younger readers would have no such memory because Vatican II's Decree on Ecumenism encouraged moments of shared worship and study between Catholics and other Christian communities. To the second point, the Vatican Observatory publication on Galileo was recommended because it is readable and pertinent. As an Observatory publication it is bound by Vatican protocols which respect the prevailing teachings of the Roman Magisterium. Thirdly: you are free to repeat as often as you wish your opinion that HV has infallible status. At the end of your iterations, it remains a fact that a theologian the calibre of Joseph Ratzinger has chosen to never endorse your opinion: but that probably won't influence your view. Fourthly, I have not expressed an opinion – thus far - on the issue of revising the teaching which underpins para 14 of HV. - You should re-read my comments in the May 11 post. Finally, hyperbole may help to alleviate an outbreak of hyperventilation but does little to facilitate a focussed discussion: should you wish to review the last six or so lines of your May 12 thoughts and rephrase them into a proposition able to be commented on – then I would be happy to respond.


Bill Burke | 13 May 2021  

Michael Furtado, rather than prolong another exchange on which agreement is unlikely, why not contact either or both Frs Ross Jones SJ or Chris Middleton SJ, who, while holding prominent positions and direct experience in the Australian schools you adjudge "elitist", have, in collaboration other Jesuit educators and overseas missionaries, been drivers of the local educational orientation to the service of the poor in very practical ways, including the founding of new Jesuit schools: you might also check out Loyola College Mount Druitt as another example Jesuit initiative and lay collaboration in this context. (And when you make comments about my supposed attack on priests like Fr Lou Lachal, whom I knew as a teenager, and the former General of the Society of Jesus, Fr Pedro Arrupe, I find myself thinking of Pope's couplet: "Others to some faint meaning make pretence/But Shadwell never deviates into sense.")


John RD | 14 May 2021  

Bill Burke: ‘Mortalium Animos….Catholics were prohibited from joining non Christian assemblies - of the worship or study variety. Readers with a consciousness that reaches back to the nineteen fifties and further will recall the obligation on Catholics to seek a dispensation from their Parish Priest before they attended a Protestant wedding or funeral service….Vatican II's Decree on Ecumenism encouraged moments of shared worship and study between Catholics and other Christian communities.’ What’s the problem? Ecumenical activity isn’t intrinsically evil but can be prudentially unwise if the individual Catholic isn’t protected. In 1928, MA taught that Christianity isn’t a federation of incompatible beliefs. In 1995, Ut Unum Sint taught that non-Catholic Christians have Catholic DNA (the subsisting idea) which ‘possess an inner dynamism towards Catholic unity’ which Catholics have a duty to encourage. The two are consistent. The Vatican talks to the Chinese Communist Party regime. If a Catholic wants to join some LGBTQI* Christians in standing outside an abortion mill, fine, because there is no doctrinal danger. If s/he wants to join the same Christians in a sex and marriage study group, s/he should be encouraging the Catholic DNA, not the LGBTQI* one.


roy chen yee | 16 May 2021  

Roy – the point of citing Mortalium Animos teachings has been made in earlier posts. I leave you to solve the complexities of Ecumenism as it relates to talks with the Chinese Communist Party and LGBTQI Christians. I was intrigued by the idea of Christian DNA that you mention – is this an indirect way of recognising the legitimacy of Baptism in most other Christian Churches?


Bill Burke | 16 May 2021  

Bill: “Catholics were prohibited from joining non Christian assemblies - of the worship or study variety. Readers … will recall the obligation on Catholics to seek a dispensation from their Parish Priest before they attended a Protestant wedding or funeral service.” Do you realize the confusion of those two statements? Unless you acknowledge that that M.A. prohibition wasn’t blanket, which everyone understood at the time. When M.A. forbade Catholics from the assemblies of Protestants it clearly wasn’t talking about Catholic Joe attending the Protestant funeral service of his Protestant grandmother Mollie. Otherwise how could Joe, under the MA regime, ever have gotten that dispensation you correctly referred to, even from the Pope, let alone his pp? And are you suggesting that when Catholic Joe opened his front door to a couple of JWs, M.A. was forbidding him from inviting them in, giving them a cuppa, listening to their spiel and trying to understand and reason about their claims from a Catholic point of view, thereby creating an “assembly”? In that case, Frank Sheed, Maisie Ward and the Catholic Evidence Guild, “dialoguing” in a study “assembly” with unbelievers of all stripes (even Protestants and, yes, Freemasons and pan-Christians) in Hyde Park, were in flagrant violation of M.A. Yet far from being condemned, they were blessed by the hierarchy for their efforts! The point of short, straightforward, logical M.A. is that Catholics can’t give any external sign, implicit or explicit, that they were accepting in any way anti-Catholic beliefs, gestures and assertions. Which Catholic Joe was certainly not doing by turning up to Mollie’s funeral as such (or trying to convince the JWs about the existence of hell) But Fr Pat, Joe’s pp, would want Joe to know that he, Joe, who was devout, but not a theologian, shouldn’t join in the service in any way that would indicate he had renounced his Catholic beliefs. Such as taking the “Communion” bread and wine, or applauding when the minister announced that Mollie had been “saved” and now in heaven, and that to pray for her soul was un-Christian. Which is why Catholic laity needed to be dispensed by their pps in such circumstances. And why they should in principle still be … except that, tragically, in my experience, pps at most Catholic funerals today already place grandma Mollie in heaven, and he who protests the suggestion to said pp and suggests Mollie might need our urgent prayers and indulgences is considered a fundamentalist cur, thanks to the fallout from wordy and yet vague, have it both ways, V2 documents, such as the Decree on Ecumenism. More later. Cheers.


HH | 17 May 2021  

Bill Burke: The point hasn’t been made in previous posts that MA is consistent with Ut Unum Sint and Ut Unum Sint takes Vatican II as its precedent. What was attempted by you was the exact opposite, that MA is inconsistent with Vat II. The Magisterium reflects the organic evolution of Continual Revelation. Disjunctive development is logically impossible because, if nothing else, the Church is, by definition, an expert on what is sin and what it claimed yesterday always to be sinful cannot not be sinful today. Further, a point to be drawn from Ut Unum Sint is that the DNA isn’t ‘Christian’. Michael Furtado ought to be sui generis. You shouldn’t dance around like him claiming things that weren’t said or the temptation to recall the line ‘Did God really say you must not eat of any tree in the garden?’ becomes too great.


roy chen yee | 17 May 2021  

JohnRD compounds the difficulties faced by Chris Middleton and Ross Jones by opening them up to the criticism that intention, donation and money alone 'doth not justice make'. Not only is L,MD totally different in its curriculum, whether official or hidden, from that of the three Jesuit colleges I specified as challenged to meet the social justice claims of Jesuit schools, it now boasts another name, signifying its elision from its former Jesuit appellation, and is now part of the excellent and commendable educational outreach of Parramatta Catholic Education. Its website says: 'Loyola in Mount Druitt is now known as CathWest Innovation College, Loyola Campus'. What a pity John RD chooses to commend the charitable and philanthropic work of these extremely well-heeled schools, while castigating Ross for his pastoral treatment of a gender-transitioning student. Many moons ago, while doing a Master's in Education Policy (UWA, 1988) I interviewed Denise Desmarchelier, the 'foundation' Loreto principal of John XXIII College, Claremont. Sr Desmarchelier, reprising the school's motto 'Seek Justice', emphasised that her ambition was to deliver the first Vietnamese doctor in WA. By any stretch of the imagination her vision of justice was a limited one. And no Jesuit teaches in them!


Michael Furtado | 17 May 2021  

M.F.: Discounting the support of monetary donations by wealthier Jesuit schools to their poorer relations - action by no means insignificant in the context of justice's demands and the practical addressing of needs - is a gross misrepresentation, and ignores the fact of direct pastoral and fraternal interaction between these schools. The Jesuits administered Loyola for twenty-seven years, establishing interschool connections through debating and sporting activities; their legacy continues through the Jesuit parish of the Holy Family, Mt Druitt. Further, if you are attempting to drive a wedge between me and the Jesuits - for example, in your recent use of extreme and distorting language such as "castigating" - I suggest your ploy is as misplaced and futile as trying, as you do on another ES thread, to portray me as at odds with Pope Francis.


John RD | 19 May 2021  

HH – You seem to have little direct appreciation of the workings of Canon Law which happily unites prohibitions and dispensations within its system, and even less awareness of the minefield of prohibitions and dispensations that pertained prior to the promulgation of the current Code in 1983. Clergy who were on the rank then, would recall the value of canonists like Humphrey O'Leary CSSR who could pinpoint obscure but useful dispensations with amazing speed. And so, I see no need to go over past ground, except to point out the use of the word “assembly” in the encyclical was used with technical precision which you can research further, should you wish. Your reference to Frank Sheed in this context is either mischievous or, again, betraying a limited knowledge of the London or Sydney Hyde Park Speakers Corners. So, I find no rebuttal in your comments of May 17,


Bill Burke | 19 May 2021  

Roy – in plain speaking: MA contains specific teachings and Vatican II taught the opposite teachings – and I have previously cited relevant examples to illustrate this observation. You are entitled to your view that “The Magisterium reflects the organic evolution of Continual Revelation”. However, you are not entitled to suggest that I am “claiming things that weren’t said.” I stand by all that I have claimed throughout this discussion and have offered corroborating evidence from Vatican documents.


Bill Burke | 19 May 2021  

The early Jesuits were quite heroic figures, dedicated to the revivification of the Catholic Church, when her future in certain parts of Europe was dubious, to say the least. What would Inigo and Company think, up there in Heaven, where life's ambiguities are resolved? I have no idea, I have never been there. They had one thing in common with John Colet, that flower of the English Renaissance: they believed in the transforming power of education, not just for the clergy, but for all those worthy of it. Xavier, which I know something of from inside, was not just a social school, but endeavoured to educate humane Christian men. Did it succeed? In some cases and not others. Some, even at an early age, had shut themselves off from that transforming vision and became psychological and spiritual dwarves. Others, not necessarily clerics and not necessarily friends of mine, like Tim Fischer and Jim Lally, became the sort of man any school would be proud of. There were lots of them. Xavier in the 1960s was noticeably cheaper than the Protestant GPS schools. Melbourne Grammar School, supposedly 'elitist' had quite a few scholarships which enabled many who could not otherwise attend to do so. Its founder, Bishop Perry, like Cardinal Manning, an Old Harrovian, had a social vision. He wanted to admit Aboriginal boys, but was overuled by the School Council. A great pity. MGS admitted its first Aboriginal boy in 1966, my last year there. I believe there are now several. Sir Brian Hone was responsible for the first momentous step. As I said, I think he was the Australian Arnold. MGS also produced Barry Humphries: an Australian legend. I think Ross Jones may be a bit of a Hone. Good on him. He is making the Church relevant. So did Jesus. Jesus wasn't one for moral prigs, he was there for all suffering humanity.


Edward Fido | 20 May 2021  

In his encounter with the Canaanite woman, Jesus had no problem deciding that he had got it wrong in his first response. He therefore completely reversed himself. So why is the Church hierarchy afraid of admitting it got some things wrong in the past? Francis has no difficulty in saying that he has made mistakes. John XXIII said he would never speak infallibly.


Joseph Fernandez | 20 May 2021  

Joseph, whence your interpretive certitude that Jesus "got it wrong"? Alternative exegesis has been offered. Were your assertion so, it would be an anomaly in the New Testament corpus, and without mention, let alone support, in the Church's tradition. The Church has extended official apologies for historical wrongs done in her name - wrongs measured by her own calling and teachings. However, she has never apologised for her teaching on marriage, as you appear to imply she should.


John RD | 23 May 2021  

Bill, thanks – I’m familiar with the prohibition/dispensation regime in Canon Law, but I had gathered so far in our conversation it was common ground between us that after Mortalium Animos (1928), Catholics were *not* dispensed from its prohibition against joining pan-Christian assemblies, at least in the remotest degree compared to the rate whereby Catholics were being dispensed, case by case, after prudential consideration of their pp, from the prohibition against attending a non-Catholic wedding or funeral. (And if you have any evidence against my alleged disparity of dispensations, I’d be intrigued to learn of it.) I thought that was your whole point about the significant theological silence of the V2 Decree on Ecumenism over M.A.Which is why I found it confusing that you attempted to forcefully illustrate the M.A. “blanket” (my description, not a term of art) prohibition by citing a prohibition from which Catholics *were* often dispensed! If the M.A. prohibition was indeed routinely dispensed with, why would any V2 Father imagine there would be a need for a grand theological silence re. M.A., when they could just trot out its routine dispensation record and present V2 ecumenism as a Newman-esque example of organic development? Further: as I’ve stressed above – V2 didn’t actually supplant M.A. The definitions of “ecumenism” are so at variance that the teachings about such differently understood ecumenical movements can be reconciled. Apples and oranges. Accordingly, the M.A. rule against participating in M.A. defined ecumenical pan-Christian assemblies has not, AFAIK, been rescinded by V2 or the post-Conciliar decrees. As you rightly point out, V2 allowed for moments when Catholics and non-Catholic Christians could meet to study and even pray together … as long as no suggestion was given thereby from the Catholic party that, for example, the Catholic Church is not hoping as an intention to bring all those non-Catholics into the One True Church which is the Catholic Church ("God's only flock" U.R. 2). If that sort of meeting can happen, then it’s a far cry from those pan-Christian ecumenical gatherings roundly condemned by M.A. Which condemnation, as I say, stands unsupplanted. So, a theologically insignificant – albeit rather cowardly, IMO – silence on the part of V2.


HH | 24 May 2021  

One of the bad things about the Irish-Australian Catholicism of the 1960s was that it embodied a mindless tribalism; a ludicrous, fawning devotion to the priesthood, however awful and immoral and a fear of breaking ranks and not toeing the party line. It still exists. Priests are not supposed to think, pray and respond to a real situation in real time. Ross Jones did think, pray and act. His article was not a paen to SSM. He was not suggesting any Ignatians, current or past, hie themselves off to Oxford Street and get into BDSM or similar. But he copped the moral equivalent of having a chamber pot emptied over him in the pre-sanitation days in the Old Town of Edinburgh. All you have to do is look at some of the pot emptiers. They remind me of what the Duke of Wellington said of his troops. He wasn't sure what they did to the enemy but they terrified him.


Edward Fido | 24 May 2021  

The Canaanite woman asked for help for her daughter and the disciples attempted to drive her away. But she persisted. Jesus initially re-stated long established traditional teaching that the Messiah had come only for the chosen people and went further, saying that it was not fair to give children's food to the dogs. I would guess that many a parish priest has struggled with preaching a homily on the 20th Sunday. However we were privileged in our church when the priest saying Mass produced a homily that was both inspired and inspiring. He invited us to conduct a thought experiment with Mary being on the scene, in which case she would "probably have given Jesus a clip around the ears and told him to mind his manners when talking to women." And then lamented her own failings in bringing up a bad mannered son. All ends well when Jesus is persuaded by the Canaanite woman's persistence, humility and humour to completely reverse himself, thus acknowledging that he got it wrong initially. Mary would have been proud of his upbringing after all.


Joseph Fernandez | 24 May 2021  

I suppose the priest would have recommended a clip around the ear for saying, “Woman, why do you involve me? My hour has not yet come.”


roy chen yee | 26 May 2021  

Why not allow for the possibility of humour in Jesus' initial reply, Joseph? And perhaps in your homilist's imaginative construction Mary herself also joined in the byplay . . . ?


John RD | 26 May 2021  

Further to several posts about Jesuit schooling above, I forward the following excerpt from St Ignatius' College Riverview's latest "Ignatian"(vol. 34, 2021), a school which employs a First Nation's Co-ordinator. The writer is Denzel Crawshaw-Tomlin, originally from Darwin, now in Year 12 at the College: "When I first joined the College, it was all very new. I grew up mainly around Aboriginal people, so coming to a predominantly non-Indigenous school was challenging, but I was never homesick. I had family here and it was easy to make friends in the boarding house - we all feel like brothers and I was welcomed to the community . . . There's good integration between the Aboriginal boys and the rest of community - we learn from each other. Non-Indigenous boys don't know about the life and struggles of Indigenous people in Australia, so we teach them, and they also teach us. Most students are open to that education - most haven't seen or know what we go through. . . I want to give back to the community to try to close the gap of social injustice and inequality between Indigenous Australians and non-Indigenous Australians."


John RD | 26 May 2021  

I introduced the story of that formidable Canaanite woman, on this discussion thread, as evidence that Jesus himself did not believe in infallibility, a major topic on this thread. I will be testing the tolerance of the moderator in now continuing to respond regarding the Canaanite woman since this may be straying far from being on-topic....but here goes. The Canaanite woman was highly distressed - her daughter had a problem somewhat worse than running out of wine. Another thought experiment: If my wife took our daughter to Emergency at an Australian hospital and the doctor said " Hey lady, why are you troubling me, my shift has not yet begun" I would hope that his supervisor would give him the modern day career-defining equivalent of a clip around the ears. Likewise if he attempted to engage in humourous byplay while my wife was distressed about the (hypothetical) medical emergency involving our daughter.


Joseph Fernandez | 27 May 2021  

Joseph, It seems to me the Gospels are not without instances of irony - of which humour, even of the 'gallows' variety,- on Jesus' part, especially on matters of faith and justice, is evident; his engagement with the Canaanite woman is a instance that pertains to faith, with a crowd in attendance: not only a private exchange, but also a consequential one for public response. As for the his believing in his own infallibility, why should that be necessary for one who declares himself to be "the way, the truth and the life" (Jn 14:6)? St John's Gospel identifies him with the "I am" formulation reserved only for God in the Old and New Testaments. There is, too, the further issue of Jesus's gift of the Holy Spirit to Peter and the Apostles, and the development of doctrine leading to the Catholic Church's official pronouncement on "infallibility" and the conditions in which it is exercised, clearly stated in Vatican II.


John RD | 28 May 2021  

How about a clip on the ear for waiting until Lazarus had died? Anyway, the logical problem just gets worse for those who don’t believe in Jesus’ infallibility. Say he wasn’t. What was the Father doing then? Surely being omniscient and omnipotent and doing nothing while your Son drops a ball is omniculpable? Pointing a finger at Jesus is pointing two fingers at the remainder of the Trinity, neither of whom have ears you can find to clip.


roy chen yee | 28 May 2021  

The 5 year old article to which the link below points, is still worth reading, for this discussion. From the University of Chicago Divinity School: https://divinity.uchicago.edu/sightings/articles/infallibility-time-find-another-term-doctrine


Joseph Fernandez | 01 June 2021  

Would that you were allowed to enter this discussion without risk of the opposition that you have experienced, Joe. There's not a skerrick of a chance of 'Jesus, meek and humble of Heart' getting a look-in, let alone of 'Jesus the Liberator', for fear of such a construction upsetting the unbudging template of the magisterium, the Opus Dei cypher for an embattled Church. Even the Pius the Tenthers wouldn't survive! These people are 'Pio No-nay-never-no-mores' extarordinaire! While +Francis abandoned his 'Pixotic' cap and slippers, handing over the papal apartments to an infirmary and Catelgandolfo to pull in a bit of needy cash, (He spends his weekends with the San Egidios) there are those contradicting you who would prefer him to die crucified to the sedia gestatoria. I bet he prays for Samson to reappear and bring the Petrine baldacchino crashing down on the idolators here who worship it. As for them every exchange is countered by a re-proclamation of the Infallibility dogma, so also is any attempt to explore the Incarnation read as an attack on the Trinity. Their cycle of reaction is usually quite predictable and dutifully follows the Christian calendar: the Ascension, Pentecost next and then the Trinity.


Michael Furtado | 01 June 2021  

We don't need to apply an anthropomorphic vision of God the Father, omniscient and omnipotent, but staying inactive when things go wrong. As the old saying goes, if you believe God created man in his own image, you still do not need to return the compliment.


Joseph Fernandez | 01 June 2021  

Heaven forbid, Michael Furtado, that 'pew Catholics' should take the liturgical calendar as a devotional and theological guide and source of spiritual nourishment! It could get really problematic for you when we come to the feast of Christ's body and blood.


John RD | 02 June 2021  

Michael Furtado: ‘As for them every exchange is countered by a re-proclamation of the Infallibility dogma’ Which, presumably, is why Joe in the few weeks (it seems) that he has been on this site has submitted a (perhaps) learned article on infallibility to move the discussion along. Which learned article on the licitness of homosexual practice have you submitted in the few years (it seems) that you have been on this site, to move the discussion along? Anyway, the premiere method of gaining knowledge in the material world is scientific method, in which those who seek to advance a hypothesis have to try to falsify it, not support it. If you wish to advance the hypothesis that homosexual practice is licit, tell us of all the ways in which you have tried and failed to falsify it. One of those ways will be to show why, if the Magisterium is fallible, a venerable doctrine like that of the Trinity would not be at risk of being rescinded. If you believe in scientific method, you will have to believe that ‘any attempt to explore the Incarnation’ must be seen as to whether it is also ‘an attack on the Trinity’.


roy chen yee | 02 June 2021  

The urge against infallibility amounts to the desire for the right to be wrong but to avoid moral accountability for error. When you vote against infallibility for the Church, you’re voting for infallibility for yourself. There‘s nothing more logical about this than saying there’s no right to be wrong because you’ve been told. If the Church doesn’t know, it’ll tell you. Th Church doesn’t know whether the Scots should vote to leave the UK. It should know whether Astra Zeneca is a vaccine licit to be received, which is another reason for centralisation. If you’re in an aircraft, it shouldn’t matter where in relation to a diocese on the ground a moral question will turn. Look to the Diocese of Rome. ‘As the old saying goes, if you believe God created man in his own image, you still do not need to return the compliment.’ You’re forbidden to return the compliment and infallibility saves you from the risk that your frail grasp of a particular situation might cause you to do so. Not everybody has an angel on the shoulder holding a smartphone with a database of all the correct moral answers.


roy chen yee | 02 June 2021  

The University of Chicago Divinity School's article to which you refer, Joseph, is simply Gerard Mannion's rehash of Hans Kung's 1960s views on infallibility that vaporise the Petrine office and episcopal magisterium in the apostolic tradition of the Catholic Church. Pope Francis, like Benedict XVI, has made conciliatory overtures to Kung since his licence to teach in the name of the Church was revoked, but has not rescinded the CDF's verdict on the unrepresentativeness of Kung's views on the subject of infallibility. It's more than curious that argument from the novelty of theological terminology is preferenced over usages and understandings established and hard-won over centuries of the Church's experience - something that doesn't happen in serious fields of secular learning - medicine, for instance.


John RD | 02 June 2021  

Serious fields of secular learning like medicine have abandoned past practices that were based on superstition and ignorance. A Google search on "Abandoned old medical practices " brings up 50 million hits. They make interesting reading.


Joseph Fernandez | 03 June 2021  

Another old saying: "There are two kinds of people in the world: those who classify the people in the world as being of two kinds, and those who don't." One of my many weaknesses is continuing to fit into the first category, while hoping one day to fit into the second category. It seems to me this entire discussion thread is between, on the one hand, those who want this life to be based on rules and the next life to be determined by judgement on how well the rules were followed - and, on the other hand, those who believe we have both a right and a duty to form an informed conscience and act on it in this life, and our next life or lives will be influenced by some form of increased connection to or disconnection from the spirit that we call God.


Joseph Fernandez | 03 June 2021  

As regards Francis not rescinding CDF's verdict on Kung: Francis is a lot less radical than Jesus. His style is not to throw the moneylenders out of the temple but rather to negotiate with the church leaders a different model of financial support.


Joseph Fernandez | 03 June 2021  

So, Joseph, you suppose the official teachings of the Catholic Church ,e.g., on marriage, are based on "superstition and ignorance"? If so, it's no wonder the Australian Bishops have recently identified formation (which includes education) as a priority.


John RD | 04 June 2021  

‘brings up 50 million hits. They make interesting reading.’ The difference between the two sides on the nature of authority is that one side says 50 million hits make interesting reading while the other says some of the 50 million make interesting reading.


roy chen yee | 04 June 2021  

If the Australian Bishops have identified education as a priority, that is to be commended, and I hope this education will include teaching all Catholics the full history of the "Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition" from its formation in 1542, to its change of name in 1965 to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and up to the present day.


Joseph Fernandez | 05 June 2021  

John and Roy misrepresent the Catholic position on conscience. In 1832, Gregory XVI released the encyclical 'Mirari Vos', rejecting freedom of the press, religious liberty, and separation of church and state. Liberty of conscience, Gregory wrote, was 'a pestilence more deadly to the state than any other.' His arguments condemning freedom of religion were iterated by Pius IX in his 1864 Syllabus of Errors. Pius' 'error has no rights' principle operated well into the 1950s, when John Courtney Murray SJ made it his life's task to reconcile Catholic teachings with religious pluralism and democracy. Murray's ideas encountered significant resistance from traditionalist Catholics, but were supported by the future John-Paul II at Vatican II in the form of Dignitatis Humanae (1965). According to that Declaration people do have rights even if they are considered in error. Joseph C. Fenton challenged Murray over the latter's allegedly 'unorthodox' interpretation of church teaching on church-state relations. However, Murray's dissenting position was adopted in the Declaration of Religious Freedom at Vatican Council II in 1964, and Fenton's positions have been soundly eclipsed. This gives the lie to the assertion that the magisterium never changes and infallibility is eternally unrescindable and not to be read contextually.


Michael Furtado | 22 June 2021  

Furtado: ‘magisterium never changes’. Another ‘Did God really say’ fiction from you. Nobody says the magisterium never changes. Under the inspiration of continual revelation, the magisterium changes by expanding organically from what it knew before. The question for you is whether it can expand organically to sever the intimacy between a child and its biological parent as will be the case for trophy children in an LG household.


roy chen yee | 23 June 2021  

As the late Cardinal Avery Dulles shows in his 2001 essay: "Religious Freedom: Innovation and Development", only a superficial, misguided or mischievous reading of the documents would set in oppposition "Mirari Vos" and "The Syllabus of Errors", on the one hand, and Vatican II's "Declaration on Religious Freedom", on the other. The justification for continuity or development rather than reversal between these documents is thoroughly elaborated by Dulles, and the position of John Courtney Murray himself is cited: Murray regards "The Declaration on Religious Freedom" as being, "an authentic development of doctrine in the sense of Vincent of Lerins', 'an authentic progress, not a change of faith.'" Moreover, the Declaration itself itself states explicitly that " . . .it leaves intact the traditional Catholic teaching on the moral duty of individuals and societies towards the true religion and the one Church of Christ." ("Dignitatis Humanae". I).


John RD | 23 June 2021  

None of this clever patter and rebarbitive commentary, Roy, will distract from the fact that a child reared in an LGBTIQ household is much more likely to be better looked after than another reared in one of thousands of orphanages, boys' homes, women's laundries, homes for unmarried underage mothers (and their children) and refuges for single women at risk of loss of their virginity, as the disgraceful universal record now shows! I hope that answers your question which, hitherto, my sense of shame as a loyal Catholic, prevented me from doing as a matter of humility and remorse until you forced my hand. Be assured that the banner you fly does no favours for our Church, currently in deepest mourning, evidently unlike those like you who excuse all manner of misdemeanour in the name of the magisterium and our fallen human nature.


Michael Furtado | 25 June 2021  

Michael Furtado: ‘which, hitherto, my sense of shame as a loyal Catholic, prevented me from doing as a matter of humility and remorse until you forced my hand.’ Talking gas from the ‘heart’ doesn’t equate to talking sense from the brain. ‘a child reared in an LGBTIQ household is much more likely to be better looked after than another reared in one of thousands of orphanages, boys' homes, women's laundries, homes for unmarried underage mothers (and their children) and refuges for single women at risk of loss of their virginity, as the disgraceful universal record now shows!’ But were we comparing an LGBTIQ household to these other places, or merely to a non-LGBTIQ household? Declamation without sense, or oratory which is rhetoric without reason, is gas.


roy chen yee | 26 June 2021  

My comparison would be gaseous were it not that the overall context for this exchange applies to events at St Aloysius', a Jesuit college that endorses the enrollment and support of a student undertaking a gender transition. This speaks reams about an enlightened school administration which, without departing from Catholic teaching, regards its role as also to nurture and support their student and her family in a pastoral way befitting a Catholic school. I also assume that if a gay couple wished to enrol their son at the same school, the last thing Fr Rector would do would be to ask about his parents' gender orientation. Your making the sexual orientation of parents the sole measure by which a child's care and well-being depends cannot logically be compared with the same test being applied to two straight parents because the test of the latter's suitability would hardly rest on their gendered behaviour but several factors relating to the quality of their parenting. After all, child protection services remove children at an astonishing rate from the care of straight parents every year. It made sense instead to compare your citation with the Catholic record. Don't split hairs, Roy; it cheapens you!


Michael Furtado | 27 June 2021  

‘Don't split hairs’. Michael Furtado splits hairs (and cheapens his PhD) by the flaw (or ploy) of thinking in silos. Catholic Christianity is an indivisible logical whole, each part contributing to the sense of the whole and the sense of the whole working in all its parts. Apart from the potential Matthew 6:18 implications of causing little ones to stumble by normalising in their minds the belief that what God has proposed in terms of sex and gender (male and female he created them as distinct principles), Man may dispose, the normalising of homosexuality or transgenderism in a Catholic school will lead by degrees to a demand to normalise holy communion to such individuals. If it’s normal in a Catholic classroom, why isn’t it normal in a school-time Mass, and then to Sunday Mass? What’s the deal, someone might quite legitimately ask, on the one hand to withhold communion from a child at school-time Mass (which is, by the raising of its profile, akin to making it sit in a corner) and on the other to take their parents’ hard-earned dollars? But, if to one class of those who publicly affirm, directly or indirectly, one type of intrinsic evil, why not to those who publicly affirm another, eg., abortion? Being, from misguided charity, all things to everybody dissolves your coherency and integrity.


roy chen yee | 29 June 2021  

Thanks for your post, Roy. That you clearly attribute to the Universal Christ the detailed knowledge and foresight to envisage the quandaries faced by Fr Jones and his cohort at Milsom Point I do not contest, but that you should foresee to where this leads places you somewhat ahead of both the historical Jesus and those of us who have no idea where this will lead beyond the biological essentiallism that obsesses you. It is precisely because of the questions and scenarios that you raise that Vatican II was called. The Church in the Modern World needed a Pastoral Constitution that went beyond Thomas Aquinas who, in your canonism you place above Christ. Thus, in the busy life of a Rector I imagine that if the girl in question is Catholic and practicing she may approach the Table of the Lord like anybody else whether at home or at school. The idea of an Inquisitor standing guard over who approaches the Table collapsed when, shortly after Vatican II, a Jewish friend of Mum's, who had asked to accompany us to Mass, joined the queue for Communion. The priest didn't know and in today's world neither should you, but only God!


Michael Furtado | 30 June 2021  

Michael Furtado: ‘The priest didn't know….’ And why should he not have been informed? It was his business to know. After all, the picture derived from scripture (picture because the first admissions to the New Covenant were the lowly and the less educated who could only handle words which painted pictures) is that he is a shepherd and his pen is only for his sheep and those others whom he admits. The entitled behaviour of disobedience, petty or otherwise, is the problem here, disobedience not just to authority, but to the logic which gives the authority its authority.


roy chen yee | 01 July 2021  

Picture the moment Roy addresses. 6am Mass in Calcutta. Swirling mists and rain to confront. Indulgent and deeply pious Punjabi lady hurrying through the crowds to get to St Ignatius' on time. My mother deeply engaged in her personal morning prayer and meditation. Mrs Singh, having spent the war years in Britain, deeply conscious of the welcome given her by British Christians, assailed for the most part by their equally harried circumstances, accustomed to attending - who knows? - mainly Anglican services, joining the small and quick queue for Communion and, in the twinking of an eye, receiving the Precious Gift before mum notices. Along comes Roy, seventy years on, dressed in full regalia as Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor. The Priest and Mum approach and the accusation is read out. How do you plead, asks the GI. 'Not guilty, m'lud', states Mgr Barber, 'I didn't know'; while Mum stumbles and falls in the face of all this pomp and panoply. Next its Christ's turn. As the story goes, he observes silence and ends up kissing the GI. 'Go' says the GI. 'You're not supposed to be here'. Christ kisses him. rtadohe GI? His heart soars but his mind remains firmly shut.


Michael Furtado | 03 July 2021  

Michael Furtado: ‘Next its Christ's turn. As the story goes, he observes silence and ends up kissing the GI. 'Go' says the GI. 'You're not supposed to be here'. Christ kisses him. ….His heart soars but his mind remains firmly shut.’ As the Inquisitor reminded Him, Christ is bound by his promise not to add to the words he had already spoken before his Ascension. That’s why private revelations need to be confirmed by the Magisterium. But, why are you blaming the Inquisitor? Shouldn’t you blame Christ for walking off and leaving the heretics the Inquisitor was going to burn tomorrow to their fate? Unlike Judas who kissed Christ first, this kiss came from Christ and if the Word never returns void, who’s to say that "The kiss glows in his heart, but the old man adheres to his idea" is not as it should be? That is, if you take Doestoevsky’s musings on what Christ might do in an unlikely hypothetical situation to be canonical. https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/pol116/grand.htm


roy chen yee | 05 July 2021  

To unscramble: 'rtadohe GI?' = 'And the GI?' Apologies & Thanks!


Michael Furtado | 05 July 2021  

Knowing your tendency to treat the verbal canvas as an opportunity for syntactic grand jete, I thought the mysterious ‘rtadohe’ (pronounced ‘rr-tah-doh-hey’) might have meant something from the second part of Luso-Punjabi.


roy chen yee | 06 July 2021  

Roy, Bub, you miss the entire point of Dostoevsky's 'The Grand Inquisitor' (cf. 'The Brothers Karamazov') unless you argue here that the Inquisition was a good thing. If you do, I'm sorry to say that the Catholicism you defend isn't worth it and corresponds in no way, shape or form with the Jesus of The Gospels. Maybe THAT's the deeply tragic point you appear to relentlessly drive home, viz. that what is being contested on these pages isn't various models of church enroute to the Australian Synod but the claims of our very Church itself in relation to an authentic and authoritative explication of the Gospels. Dare I say it, but you seem to be saying that your 'church' and mine are two remarkably different things and that your 'unswerving' model, rather than, say, Bonhoeffer's one of a 'confessing' church, is the one that must prevail. If that is so, I believe, though with very deep sadness in my heart, that the Catholic Church we grew up in through Vatican II has lost its way, as a consequence of which those who leave will do so because of the impossibility of the Pro-Gospel choice to which you have driven us.


Michael Furtado | 06 July 2021  

Michael Furtado: ‘you miss the entire point of Dostoevsky's 'The Grand Inquisitor'…unless you argue here that the Inquisition was a good thing.’ That words have consequences is the difference between the Church as it is and the one inside your head. You cite the words to support your excitement at seeing a tableau of Christ’s kiss leaving a worldview (which you wish to disparage) undisturbed. I’m enquiring as to what it means, from the same words, that somebody died the next day because Christ (for whom nothing is impossible), did not change that disparaged world view. Did he not disparage himself then by not changing that worldview? You appropriate another’s words as gilding to give your opinions flash. Why not look at the words in context (ie., the Dostoevsky authorial ‘magisterium’ which brought the story to life) to see what they could possibly mean, including the fact that the story is not Dostoevsky’s but a concoction of an atheist character, Ivan, who says of it to his brother, “Why, it's all nonsense, Alyosha. It's only a senseless poem of a senseless student, who could never write two lines of verse. Why do you take it so seriously?” All words matter?


roy chen yee | 07 July 2021  

Not even the most trenchant Catholic apologists take your view, Roy. Beginning in the 1830s, the Catholic Church in various countries increasingly faced the rise of secular nationalism and anticlerical liberalism, often accompanied by atheistic ideas. The complex process of Italian unification, for which the Papal States proved to be a major hindrance, powerfully raised the question of the pope's temporal domains as opposed to his spiritual authority and divine mission. This question intensified the debates on the separation of church and state, a modern idea that gradually found its way into the legislation of France, Italy, Austria, Prussia, and, later, the German Empire. Catholicism thus served as a critical testing ground for efforts to demarcate the boundaries of the state's administration of faith from faith itself, its bureaucratic function from clerical ministering & external rituals from spirituality. This is a contest still being thrashed out in Commonweal, The Tablet and La Croix, as also in ES. The Jesuits who support this conversation are very different to those despised by Dostoevsky, but the Christ of his story remains the same, hammered into submission by a controlling and manipulative Church. We still pay the price for the sins of our past!


Michael Furtado | 08 July 2021  

Michael Furtado: ‘hammered into submission by a controlling and manipulative Church.’ Like the Christ who was hammered into submission when he wrote in the sand and dispersed the controlling and manipulative ‘Church’ of his day? Your tangent is interesting ---- in part because if the Papal States still existed, the Vatican would have real skin in the borders issue with having to do something practical about people landing on its Tyrrhenian and Adriatic coasts ---- but the point, for the moment, is the sense (or nonsense) of using Christ as a tool in a story to characterise a problem or to solve it. No writer’s creativity can approach the real Christ’s ability to scribble something in the sand to make the problem go away. Coerced by a controlling and manipulative GI? Why didn’t he just trace something in the air to put the GI in his place? And along comes Furtado, PhD so eager to weaponise against the Church this depiction of Christ that he fails to ask how is it that the story has verisimilitude when the depiction doesn’t hold water.


roy chen yee | 09 July 2021  

Sorry; you failed to follow the logic of my argument. All sorts of people, both secular and religious, Stalin as well as Savonarola, Robespierre (who was religious) as well as Bertrand Russell (who wasn't) have weaponised Christ to suit their ends. In that sense to use your too-easy transcendentalism to typecast me just won't work. I am not the one here, just to remind you, making impossible as well as absolutist claims on behalf of Christ. When the devil attempted to buy Him off at Mt Olivet, he wept but rejected a powerful blandishment which would have saved Him from the Death that all of us fear but which few of us face in terms of contrasting His self-sacrificing generosity with our human failings and weaknesses. Here you would have us believe only in an omnipotent God who waves His magic wand to serve His own ends. I don't believe in that kind of omnipotence and omniscience. It diminishes the humanity of Christ who is after all the focus of our discussion here. While I admire your ability to slide between the first and second persons of the Trinity, Dostoevsky, for all his failings, is addressing the humanity of Christ.


Michael Furtado | 11 July 2021  

It may not have occurred to you, Roy, that in the extremism of your invective, you adopt the persona of the Grand Inquisitor. Apart from the record you establish here as ES' heresy-hunter-in-Chief, your excoriation of Dostoevsky's Christ, pretty much lines you up to 'win the part' in any call for auditions in an avant-garde Passion Play production! In terms of two telling exchanges between us surrounding the contributions of Jesuit essayists, Andy Hamilton & Chris Middleton, on this site, your bile and spittle perfectly positions you to reject the image of Christ the Suffering Servant that Dostoevsky portrays. When Christ kisses you on the lips, you spit in His face and, in a show of disgust and contempt, you appear to metaphorically wipe your 'contaminated' mouth on your sleeve. I'm surprised that, in the manner of Dostoevksy's use of imagery, you don't give vent to your homophobia by resorting to a barrage of homophobic abuse. I suspect that here too you show your true colours: it is the Kiss of Christ, as in St John of the Cross's experience of it - cited elsewhere by me - that triggers your revulsion. And it exposes the flaw in your eschatology!


Michael Furtado | 12 July 2021  

Michael Furtado: ‘the logic of my argument....When the devil attempted to buy Him off at Mt Olivet’: What logic? The logic that the Lucifer which doesn’t exist attempted to buy Christ off or the logic that Lucifer did try to buy him off although none of the Gospels mention any devil in the Garden of Gethsemane?


roy chen yee | 12 July 2021  

Michael Furtado: ‘It may not have occurred to you….And it exposes the flaw in your eschatology!’ Another fishing expedition from the SS Freud. ‘Christ the Suffering Servant’ Who skips into the night to leave someone to burn the next day? The only point I’m making is that if you want to import Christ as a character in your story, import the whole Christ, the robust and creative one in the New Testament, the one who saved a woman from being stoned and other women like her, now that the vigilantes were shamed and put out of action, not the pallid caricature (created as a story within a story by the atheist Ivan, the GI being his story, not Dostoevsky’s), who pushes off into the night leaving someone to burn on the morrow. As to why you need to cite the pallid caricature as your Christ, I suppose that requires another expedition from the SS Freud.


roy chen yee | 15 July 2021  

Roy's mockery of Dostoevsky does a grave disservice to ES as well as institutional Catholicism. It is generally acknowledged, not least within our Church, that 32,000 Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and Jews were executed by the Inquisition in Spain & Portugal, while over 300,000 were banished to Morocco, India, England and Holland (Ref. Edward A. Ryan SJ, Rector & Professor of Church History, Woodstock College, Maryland, 1936–62). Roy does no service to this conversation by seeking to portray the silence of Christ, as portrayed by Dostoevsky, as a form of fakery, when He could have saved the innocent. In this, not only does Roy expose his one-sided role as an apologist for the crimes of the misguided and the murderous, but also his co-option of a Magisterium in which power and control take precedence over atonement and sorrow for sins committed in the name of our Church. Spanish & Portuguese diasporic names, such as Menezes (Menasseh), Heredia (heretic) and my own (usurer) shed light on the vicissitudes of the Inquisition which, in many respects triggered the breakaway of many Protestants but also the extermination of Jews. Ignatius Loyola himself was 'inquisited' and the Benedictine Archbishop of Toledo imprisoned for 17 years!


Michael Furtado | 16 July 2021  

Michael Furtado: ‘mockery of Dostoevsky’. Occasionally, to save on brain strain, a kind soul will provide the apt response, like manna. From the Education thread’s ‘What’s the point of schooling’, with thanks to the originator of the response: “I think it may well be time, before we stretch the patience of the editors to print what has been said ad infinitum already, to quote from the Socrates whom you affect so much to admire: 'When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the losers'.”


roy chen yee | 18 July 2021  

Thanks for stealing my lines, Roy; but 'no thanks' for applying them in a forged context. I never committed a slander against you, but you did so against Dostoevsky, the overall reputation of this august journal, against the name and reputation of Christ Himself as well as the Magisterium (which you once again bring into disrepute) and, last but not least, myself. Of course, a better and more apt quote from the Greats might have been: 'In life it is important to know when to stop arguing with people and simply let them be wrong'.


Michael Furtado | 19 July 2021  

Michael Furtado: ‘but you did so against ….and, last but not least, myself.’ OK, that was the usual overblown rhetoric that is Part 1. Part 2, which rarely shows its face, is proving the assertions. ‘In life it is important to know when to stop arguing with people and simply let them be wrong'. Like acquiesce in Communion to Mr Biden? Or acquiesce to the flooding of these pages by Furtadoisms? So, to return yet again to Part 2 which rarely shows its face, why is it important ‘to stop arguing with people and simply let them be wrong’?


roy chen yee | 20 July 2021  

And the answers, Roy, are: a) because I may be right in which case its pointless to convince you because, unlike me, you never concede a point; b) because you may be right and I wrong, in which case I will need more time to think and pray about it; c) because there may be others wishing to respond to Fr Jones who, in practical terms, feel put-off by this interminable exchange; and d) the real question may NOT be about who or what is right or wrong but that, as I concede, we are both right and wrong, the point of my concession being that the excesses of some homosexuals cannot be denied, but that their/our constant battle with sexual attraction and religious affinity, far from constituting a hatred and fear of the divine love to and by which we are called (and as witnessed during the marriage-equality debate) actually has profound implications for morality, religiosity and faith that go beyond obsessions with genitality and instead open up vast areas of discussion and experience about spirituality and coming to terms with the ultimate questions of love, sacrifice and death. Your apocalyptic visions obscure and occlude entering such a discussion.


Michael Furtado | 21 July 2021  

Michael Furtado: ‘beyond obsessions with genitality’. ‘genitality’ is an irrelevance just as is the distorted taste for liquor of an alcoholic. The question is whether the mentality exists. Saul was indicted because he approved of the mentality of stoning Stephen, even if he did not, himself, stone. A dry alcoholic still has a problem with the mentality of liquor even if he himself does not drink. It’s the state of mentality, not some practical expression of it, which is the issue. This goes all the way back to Lucifer. The rebellion is simply the thought, “I don’t want to serve.” Even if he kept serving afterwards, his holiness would have ended. There is no more or less holy in the same way as there is no more or less unique. You’re either unique or you’re not; you’re either holy or you’re not. Mentality, not genitality, is the relevant factor.


roy chen yee | 23 July 2021  

You have taught me things, cheerful El Roy, that I haven't thought about before. Your god is indeed wise and obviously has a passionate, perspicacious and like-a-dog-with-a-bone advocate in you. Does he call you 'Fido' or 'Butch', I wonder? The only question I have at this stage and in the interests of justice and fairness is that your god wrote all the books. I'd love to hear the devil's side of things. As for my God, I stumble in my search for Her. She seems to hide and laugh and weep with me in my foolishness (as well as Her regret, I suspect, for having made and putting up with me). That's how I've come to know Her, silly mistaken moi.


Michael Furtado | 25 July 2021  

Michael Furtado: ‘Her’. Francis Thompson, with whom you are so taken – “it would hold much more sway with countless sinners like me were it to be expressed in the words of a great Catholic poet like Francis Thompson: 'I fled Him, down the nights and down the days; I fled Him, down the arches of the years; I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways/Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears/I hid from Him, and under running laughter'” (Rediscovering the communal joy of Eid, July 24) - seems to think of Her as ‘Him’, indicating that somewhere in your travels, you might have come to believe ‘the devil's side of things’. After all, ‘She seems to hide’ doesn’t quite match up with a pursuing Hound which makes no attempt to hide himself. After many years of watching Hammer Films, I can vouch for the fact that following a delectable and elusive ‘She’ into the mist never ends well.


roy chen yee | 26 July 2021  

You make a paltry and facetious point, Roy. Francis Thompson lived and crafted his poetry a century ago, when male representations of God were paramount. Victorian men in the patriarchal climate of the day treated women as inferiors in terms of their franchise as well as the menial tasks relegated to them. A tragic measure of this inequality was the extent to which men employed women as prostitutes rather than modernism's much healthier cultural climate in which women and men are educated to think of one another as equal partners in relationships of sharing and complementarity. As far as I am aware, Thompson never married and lived the life of a pauper on the streets. His poems, especially The Hound of Heaven, far from being compromised by the social conditions of the time, are regarded as the finest expression of spirituality of his generation. And this was the expressed and published view of the (Anglican) Bishop of London. Gender doesn't have to be the 'lens de rigueur' through which to express life's profundities, otherwise in poetry it emerges as doggerel, which I know a great deal about and employ as a means of withstanding the attack of people like you.


Michael Furtado | 26 July 2021  

Michael Furtado: ‘male representations of God’ So, Francis Thompson used to say ‘Our Father’ in his prayers. Well, didn’t he get that nomenclature from text inspired by the Holy Spirit? Incidentally, how do you say the Lord’s Prayer?


roy chen yee | 27 July 2021  

'Creator God, Redeemer and Sustainer of all that is, May your Presence be honored by us and by all creation. May your will be done on earth as it is in your Eternal Realm. Give us the food we need for our sustenance today. Forgive our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from times of trial and deliver us from evil. For the glory and power of Eternal Life is yours forever. Amen.' It is the version prayed by my daughters at All Hallows' School, and several other Girls' Schools in Brisbane, including Stuartholme, St Rita's Clayfield, Loreto Coorparoo and Lourdes Hill, Hawthorne. Gregory Terrace and Nudgee, our top Boy's Schools employ inclusive language in all of their prayers as well. In this day and age not to do so is tantamount to a declaration of ignorance rather than defiance. https://www.christianpost.com/news/catholic-schoolgirls-in-australia-taught-god-is-gender-neutral-banned-from-using-father-and-son-in-prayer.html


Michael Furtado | 01 August 2021  

Michael Furtado: ‘In this day and age not to do so is tantamount to a declaration of ignorance rather than defiance.’ Actually, to do so is workplace bullying, as it would be if we were work colleagues and I insisted on calling you Miguel. Jesus is a historical person, the Scriptures which report on him are guaranteed to be accurate by the Holy Spirit, and if he calls God ‘Father’, then ‘Father’ is what we have to address God, the first commandment mandating taking his name seriously, just as current workplace rules and courtesies mandate taking seriously how you wish to be called. And who would know his name better than his Son? What the boffins who run your Catholic school system have done is edited something actually said by Jesus to allocate God a nickname (a very grand one but a nickname just the same) as collateral penalty for the sins of human males against females. But, what do those sins have to do with his name? What does ‘Miguel’ being more linguistically consonant with ‘Furtado’ have to do with what your name actually is? And why do we think that we can improve upon what Jesus actually said?


roy chen yee | 02 August 2021  
Show Responses

Ach, Roy, mein freund, your protests, sometimes like mine, are at best artisanal. Their virtues are, at best, diligence, stubborn application and a sense of contradictoriness which, at times, rise to the level of brilliant irony; but what they also do, in my view, is to lack subtlety and especially an acknowledgement of the ambiguity that is necessarily part of the landscape of Christian free-will. You seem to be more repetitive than a Bruckner symphony, mistaking, like him, stick-at-it-ness for consistency. True, your remarks have a complete flexibility of location and application, and a less-than-pretty array of chilling 'Gothik' applications, in the child-scaring manner of Horace Walpole or Mary Shelley: threats of encircling gloom, many of them based on pre-Christian superstition and, in today's unfortunate context, summarily dismissed as flights of fancy. What a waste of a brilliant mind....


Michael Furtado | 06 August 2021  

‘artisanal….acknowledgement of the ambiguity that is necessarily part of the landscape of Christian free-will. You seem to be more repetitive….’ Paul was an artisan who acknowledged that we see in a mirror dimly. After Mars Hill, he eschewed cleverness to preach repeatedly the facts of Christ crucified. Your Mars Hill-like clever soliloquy doesn’t get around the fact that if Jesus called God ‘Father’, God the first person of the trinity must be, in some important and relevant sense, ‘father’.


roy chen yee | 13 August 2021  

I completely agree with your inference that the Lord's Prayer should never be debased to the status of a merely politically correct statement. If it were it would be tantamount to rattling it off as a formula devoid of meaning, grandeur and expression, as we frequently did at chapel in our innocent but inchoate youth. Such parroting would be akin to reducing Christianity to serve at the behest of a closed circuit, making of it a mantra that pays lip-service to a far greater ideal. The schools that I cite are no hotbeds of revolution but in every sense places of reflection intended to bring to life its otherwise hackneyed recitation amidst the sea of repetitive dross that engulfs so much else in our culture. As such it is no different in every sense to the recitation of the Lord's Prayer in Swahili, Spanish or Serbo-Croatian (in similar vein to the introduction of the Dialogic Mass). In all the schools I cite, each phrase is carefully broken down to explore its deepest meaning for us, rather than simply committed to wrote learning as a matter of Catholic obligation. I understand your fear, Roy, and commend your commitment to God's word.


Michael Furtado | 05 August 2021  
Show Responses

Michael Furtado: ‘In all the schools I cite, each phrase is carefully broken down to explore its deepest meaning for us, rather than simply committed to rote learning as a matter of Catholic obligation.’ And that can’t be done by the words as traditionally spoken? ‘May your Presence be honored….’: ‘Presence’ doesn’t have an identity; that’s why we ‘hallow’ his Name when we look at the things around us (another meaning being not to take it in vain). ‘….will be done on earth as it is in your Eternal Realm’: ‘Eternal Realm’ is an engineering description. ‘Heaven’ is a cultural meme from Judaeo-Christianity. ‘For the glory and power….’: are we in the business of being more pious than Jesus? Neither the Vulgate nor the NIV (used by Evangelicals) have the King James’s invented doxology in their Matthew 6:13. ‘the Lord's Prayer should never be debased to the status of a merely politically correct statement’: this version sounds like one. ‘If it were it would be tantamount to rattling it off as a formula….’: Impossible with posh Anglican girls? As for posh Catholic girls spouting admixed Scripture, haven’t they heard of that recent example of admixture, the Pachamama?


roy chen yee | 07 August 2021  

This is elderly territory, much covered in earlier issues of ES and from which its profoundly saddening to see your position hasn't budged; while I myself, under your unrelenting tutelage, have recanted my ignorance of The Fall. Furthermore, as an Australian of recent import I'm deeply saddened to see a Chinese-Australian so culturally prejudiced towards the Amazonian Indigenous experience, both liturgical as well as cultural, of others of clearly Non-English-Speaking Background. To ruminate: at some stage Matteo Ricci SJ, whose Order operates this e-journal, would have had to translate the Pater Noster into Chinese, for it has never been the rule of the Church to insist upon Latin as its preferred mode of instruction and prayer. Might it be, dare I ask, that your fondness and commitment to conservative causes, not just liturgically but across the cultural and political spectrum, relate to a misunderstanding about the purposes and modalities of faith development and growth? Surely, one as knowledgeable, sophisticated and committed as you would not be sidetracked by issues that do not contravene articles of faith. Why waste your considerable talents on a mere quibble, when there are souls to be saved and the ever-present threat of eternal Hellish banishment?


Michael Furtado | 08 August 2021  

“This is elderly territory….Hellish banishment?” There’s a difference between a spoken and a written torrent. With the latter, you can give the downstream a cursory look-over and re-focus on the headwater, the unanswered question: “ ‘In all the schools I cite, each phrase is carefully broken down to explore its deepest meaning for us, rather than simply committed to rote learning as a matter of Catholic obligation.’ And that can’t be done by the words as traditionally spoken?”


roy chen yee | 11 August 2021  

Roy, re. Pachamama, we've been there before so another aspect. To an older Australian, steeped in tradition, it would seem an anachronism. However, you have some Asian roots and obviously some sensitivity towards issues of cultural appropriation, which the Magisterium takes very seriously because of 'inculturation'. Maybe its the Stockholm Syndrome, especially evident among older Eurasians like us, that accounts for our bending over backwards to assimilate. The Church has no such preference and proclaims a Christ for All ('Neither Greek nor Jew, nor Slave nor Free, Neither Woman nor Man, but Children are We, Of the Same Lord, the One God, the Father of All; Let it Be!') In my youth Fr Antoine plucked me out of a G&S production of 'The Mikado' to invite me into a Bengali choir at St Xavier's. My parents were puzzled by this; but the Belgian Jesuits were at the forefront of inculturation long before Vatican II. The Anglo-Indiians or Indo-Europeans, steeped in neo-colonial cultural practices, took this as an affront with their 'Sweet Sacraments Divine' and 'Sweet Hearts of Jesus' gradually being replaced by a Bengali liturgy. That transition explains how I 'arrived' here. Fr Antoine surely foresaw this mutually beneficial exchange?


Michael Furtado | 11 August 2021  

“re. Pachamama….mutually beneficial exchange?” There’s a difference between a spoken and a written torrent. With the latter, you can give the travelling sheet of obscurantism a cursory look-over and re-focus on the headwater where the issue of admixture is the invented doxology that your Catholic schoolgirls are spouting, to which Pachamama is only an analogy.


roy chen yee | 11 August 2021  

‘In my youth Fr Antoine plucked me out of a G&S production of 'The Mikado' to invite me into a Bengali choir at St Xavier's….the Belgian Jesuits were at the forefront of inculturation.’ With cast names like Nanki-Poo, Ko-Ko, Poo-Bah, Pish-Tush, Yum-Yum, Pitti-Sing, Peep-Bo, and Katisha, ‘Mikado’ isn’t just misappropriation but malappropriation. If the choir at St Xavier’s weren’t singing paeans to Durga astride a Bengal tiger, then the Belgians were gently leading you away from mal-acculturation to a measured Christianity-based inculturation. That is, if the choir weren’t singing paeans to Durga astride a Bengal tiger.


roy chen yee | 13 August 2021  

Predictable questions, Roy. While 'The Mikado' was fun, it hasn't distracted me from the real lesson the Jesuits taught, which was that the purpose of living was to enjoy life. Cardinal Trevor Picachy SJ, our Headmaster and, later, Rector, before anointment as Archbishop of Calcutta, dwelt incessantly on the school's motto, 'Nihil Ultra' ('Nothing Beyond') to explain this. 'All we have, dear boys', I still hear him intoning,' is This Life. Therefore we are called to Live It To The Full!' Somehow, and tragically in my view with all your wing-clipping and doom-saying, THAT seems to have eluded you (until, hopefully now?) Funnily enough, the Royal Bengal Tiger has pride of place on the school's escutcheon, though with no reference to Durga or the other panoply of horrors and threats you incessantly drag up from the fevered imagination of an Old Testament past and with which to berate and threaten your audience. What dungeon is so dark as one's own heart! What jailer so inexorable as one's self! Slacken the waistline, Roy; advance to a better hat measurement; delight in the ever-revealed - even as we speak - development of the Church's magisterium. Embrace Christ's Love! Stop preaching the Devil!


Michael Furtado | 16 August 2021  

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