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  • Seats at the table: Incorporating diverse identities in a global church

Seats at the table: Incorporating diverse identities in a global church

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From my earliest years the primary lens through which I developed an appreciation of diverse identities was through my Catholic parish, St Thomas’, Calcutta. Situated in plush Middleton Row and centred upon a property allocated to Archbishop Carew by Governor Vansittart in 1827, the parish premises included a handsome Palladian church and convent school – Loreto House – both of them positioned within this once almost exclusively European enclave and within close proximity to my Jesuit school, St Xavier’s College.

This complex of institutions and buildings was intended to educate Catholic members of the European colonial establishment, who lived in the nearby Georgian villas and mansions of South Calcutta and Fort William. By the time of my birth a steady exodus of such people had begun. To the UK and Canada they went and also to Australasia and Southern Africa, where neo-colonial resistance to modernity had taken on a new lease of life through various race-restrictive immigration policies and, notably, apartheid.

Within Calcutta the nature of the clergy and laity had begun to change. The last European Jesuit archbishop was succeeded by an Anglo-Indian, Trevor Picachy, who later received the red hat. Our own parish clergy, once exclusively Anglo-Irish, followed by Anglophile Belgians, all of them Jesuits and accounting for India having the largest Jesuit province on the globe, began to register the leadership of Anglo-Indians. A measure of how closely this clerical cohort reflected the painfully slow pace of a newly emerging Indian Catholicism is that at one stage our Parish Priest was the brother of the Cardinal and the Mother Superior of the Loreto Order was the sister of the Vicar General.

As with church administration, so also was the congregation. Westernised Anglo-Indians began to take the place of Europeans. While the front pews, with names affixed to them, were technically reserved for the handful of colonials still ‘staying on’, our parish with a nearby club called The Grail, remained the centrepiece of a neo-colonial construction of Catholicism in this vast diocese. The children of Anglo-Indians soon exceeded the European component at both schools and the Latin Mass was sung with gusto by this hybridised cohort, who colonised the Grail Club with cultural and musical tastes drawn from Europe. Just imagine the revolutionary impact upon this stultifying and highly resistant cultural corner of Catholicism by Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity!

In time, the mass of Anglo-Indians, who regarded an indigenised India as a threat to their Western cultural identity, emigrated to the UK and Canada where, unlike Australia and New Zealand at that time, no racial tests applied to sifting applications for emigration primarily based upon appearance and a propensity to portray Western values, whatever these were meant to be. Quaint Aunt Vera had herself photographed in sunlight alongside her shaded White husband to beat this colour-bar. Back at Middleton Row it became at first a novelty and thereafter more commonplace to see women in sari present themselves for Communion at the altar rails.

Meantime, the side aisles, reserved for ‘Native Indians’ and servants and others of subordinate identity in the neo-colonial pecking order, were thrown open to all, and the clergy as well as the faithful began to be drawn in greater numbers from the Indo-Portuguese Goan community to which my parents belonged. Thus displacement and replacement forcibly refurbished a church community that would have died had it not addressed and responded to the inclusive inculturating influences unleashed by Vatican II.

 

'There are parishes to which Asian Australians flock and in regard to which the Australian Church has managed change extraordinarily well. The question must follow: is that enough?'

 

The pace of change, melded with tradition, of new Catholic identity formation manifested itself in a novel form of Indian Catholicism in which increasingly diverse and hybridised adherents adopted Indian names and social practices common to the various identities constituting India’s rich, although hitherto suppressed, indigenous spiritual heritage. Thus the Cathedral parish, in the large Chinese quarter of this vast archdiocese and served by Portuguese and, later, Italian Salesians shifted inexorably to a cultural mode that saw Bengali introduced to the Liturgy as the area became settled by refugees from Bangladesh.

Both schools introduced Bengali as a second language, while the teaching of Latin, the traditional language of the Church, was phased out. In time, Goan clergy and parishioners, themselves subject to the influence of modernity and globalisation, became harder to source as vocations from that quarter began to dwindle and the majority of clergy and the episcopate as well as female religious began eventually to emerge from the Southern Indian state of Kerala. In time this too will change.

At school, I became aware that my own gay identity was mirrored in that of several other boys, all of them gifted scholars, as well as an outstanding lay Music Educator, in addition to the diversely-gendered identities evident in several priests and which has always been an occluded aspect of India’s traditionally non-binarial contribution to the world of the aesthetic imagination, ascetic spirituality, and literature.

These exemplary colleagues and mentors brought a much needed alternative presence, hitherto suppressed, that a large Jesuit College traditionally catering to the education of India’s male elite, badly needed. Where does all this lead and what lessons are there in it for Australians living in the twenty-first century with dramatically altering demographic and cultural profiles, while facing many changes among the most prominent of which is the phenomenon of an increasingly laicised post-colonial Church?

And how do we respond to a pontiff who advocates synodality as a solution to addressing the complex challenges of modernity, governance and representation in his diverse constituency, as mirrored in this ethnography of dramatic transitions described here from another corner of Catholicism’s vast global enterprise? Additionally, as an immigrant Church how does Australian Catholicism respond to this?

 

'Where do they celebrate Mass and occupy an equal place at the Table of the Lord within an overall Australian Catholic project that is often seen as an unwilling part of an inexorably changing globalised Catholic world?'

 

Critically missing so far from any discussion of Australian synodality is the question of changing Catholic youth identities. And the most essential question here is: where do those influenced by changes that reject them go? How might their diverse Catholic identities be reincorporated?

The answers are partly there. Every Australian diocese and parish already has its particular subcultural identity that inflects its liturgy. Celebration, being the authentic hallmark of a liturgy that reflects identity, must keep pace with a theology that also incorporates the diverse cultural space that the young inhabit. Thus there are parishes to which Asian Australians flock and in regard to which the Australian Church has managed change extraordinarily well. The question must follow: is that enough?

What also of those fifty-per cent of Australians who are women: our mothers, sisters, spouses, heads of household, daughters and female leaders? Who caters for them? Where do they celebrate Mass and occupy an equal place at the Table of the Lord within an overall Australian Catholic project that is often seen as an unwilling part of an inexorably changing globalised Catholic world? Where indeed is there a Catholic Church structure that recognises and affirms the thousands of women and gay men hitherto suppressed and closeted away in niches that preclude us from being a visible presence of Church?

These are the crucial structural and cultural realities that participants must confront when addressing issues of structural reform and synodal governance. It is not as if such accommodations haven’t eventuated in the real world; but if they reflect an under-the-radar Catholicism it is high time our leaders, lay and religious, redressed this anomaly. Not to do so would be to ignore Pope Francis’ urgent call for a Synodal Church that reflects, caters for and remains responsive to a Catholic constituency that cannot be represented other than in terms of celebrating its diversity. To do otherwise is to sink the Church into the very mire of stagnation that provided the original impetus to call the Synod!

 

 

 

Michael Furtado

Michael Furtado writes about poststructural representations of Catholic identity and their implications for future church practice, governance and synodality. He is a parishioner at St Ignatius’, Toowong.

Main image: Woman standing in front of church in Goa. (Getty Images)

Topic tags: Michael Furtado, synodality, globalisation, India, Calcutta, diversity

 

 

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Existing comments

Incisive and informative, Michael. Thanks for sharing a significant part of your story. Everyone is welcome at the table and it is our task to welcome each other, respecting the vision of our Lord. Our diversity is what makes our journey exciting and joyful. We need each other. It's as simple as that.


Pam | 11 November 2021  

Well said Michael. The more voices asking for recognition the greater future we have, the greater chance we have to fulfill our mission.


Martin Nicol | 11 November 2021  

The liturgy of the Eucharist celebrates our union though, with and in Christ, and our union in faith with one another. It is not, as this article assumes, a celebration of diversity based on cultural, racial, gender and age differences. The Pentecost event highlights the key elements of the Church's unity, transcending such differences; a unity effected by the Holy Spirit, comprising devotion to the teaching of the apostles, fellowship, the breaking of the bread and the prayers (cf. Acts 2:42).


John RD | 11 November 2021  
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My article, while deliberately summative to enhance readability, assumes nothing of the sort, JRD (11/XI) but implicitly a complementarity, offering insights from anthropology that illuminate and potentially enrich not just the Liturgy of the Eucharist but locate it within an Ecclesiology of Communion that we are invited to address in this first stage of preparation for the 2023 Roman Synod.

In 1985 the Final Report of the Synod, marking the twentieth anniversary of the conclusion of the Council, stated that the Ecclesiology of Vatican II is an Ecclesiology of Communion.

The notion of Communion itself, however, has various levels of meaning in the Council's texts. While it would be a mistake to interpret it exclusively in sociologically reductive terms of confederative or amalgamative identity, the Council refers primarily to the Church's origins in the Mystery of Communion that is rooted in the Triune God’s life that opens up for us in Jesus Christ.

It is this perspective, simultaneously Trinitarian, Christocentric and Anthropological, that the Council wanted to keep before us. It presents the Church as that 'Realm of Communion' where, through the
'Crucified and Risen Christ' working in the 'Power of the Spirit', the 'Culture of the Resurrection' takes root amongst All Humanity.

Gathered in the Risen Christ and in the Spirit, as St. Paul repeatedly emphasises, the Church is
a People whose Law is 'Mutual Love', whereby All Humanity can see Christ and so come to discover Its 'Living Space' in the 'Heart of the Father', with the Holy Spirit as the 'Divine Atmosphere'.

This underlining of Communion clarifies how the People of God are to be a Sign and Instrument, i.e. of Communion with God and of Unity among All Humanity.

The source and summit of this Communion is the Paschal Mystery that is celebrated in the Eucharist.


Michael Furtado | 29 December 2021  

No substantial change will occur in the teaching and assertions of our pastoral leaders until they start listening to the people of God. That requires changes in culture, leadership and accountability - clerics and laity need to adopt relationships of mutual respect not unthinking subservience to clerics; bishops and priests must establish and empower representative pastoral councils and pay heed to their advice; diocesan assemblies and synods should be a regular occurrence; and women must be treated as truly equal in governance and ministry. Our leaders need to throw off their medieval influences. The fact that the Church officially opposed marriage equality in the face of 60% plus support from Catholics, a truly Christian position, is indicative of the imperative for well-overdue change. In Michael's words, we must heed "Pope Francis’ urgent call for a Synodal Church that reflects, caters for and remains responsive to a Catholic constituency that cannot be represented other than in terms of celebrating its diversity."


Peter Johnstone | 12 November 2021  
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In fact, Peter Johnstone, what the Catholic Church officially did in the marriage debate was uphold its Apostolic tradition's understanding of marriage, resisting the sort of euphemistic and obfuscatory re-definition to which corporate interest and media- magnified coverage is conditioning us on other critical social and moral issues as well.


John RD | 13 November 2021  

'[C]orporate interest and media-magnified coverage' had nothing to do with the people's response to the marriage equality referendum, John.


Ginger Meggs | 13 November 2021  

We already have a ‘church’ as envisaged by Michael. It’s called the Episcopal Church of the United States. As far as I can tell, it’s not absorbing ex-pagans left, right and centre, which is what the Pope would like the Catholic Church to be doing, hence his call for synod.


roy chen yee | 12 November 2021  
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I am not an Episcopalian, Roy, either Scottish or American, but there are aspects of their theologies that I admire. Since theology is an argument or position about who God is and what God is likely to want us to do about God's Creation, I share an appreciation of the theology that their US Primate, Michael Curry, articulates, as evidenced in his homily at the wedding of Megan Markle and Prince Harry. Having targeted that Church with denunciations of Meghan and Harry, and Gene Robinson, who is a gay Episcopalian bishop, you now turn to overlaying my beliefs upon this parodic template of yours by attaching (attacking?) the Pope to it for his advice to us to engage in synodality as a means of operating the vast, diverse, dysfunctional and globalised Church that he overseers. While I cannot speak for the Pope I would credit him with being a tad more aware than you evidently are of the administrative, functional, cultural and operational challenges exerted by contemporary global forces to address new and hitherto unforeseen exigencies on our complex human systems, whether religious or not, to help ensure a safe and future berth for his Barque, as in climatologically-challenged Glasgow.


Michael Furtado | 16 November 2021  

‘parodic template’

The ECUSA has everything you love, women priests, gay bishops, same-sex ‘matri’mony. How’s it doing in numbers? Not well.

https://www.knoxnews.com/story/entertainment/columnists/terry-mattingly/2020/12/17/episcopal-leaders-ponder-churchs-declining-attendance-terry-mattingly/6534905002/

Perhaps even pagans like to know what to believe in before they buy and, at least as far as Eucharist is concerned, the Anglican ‘Communion’ doesn’t really know what to think about it.

https://anglicancompass.com/what-do-anglicans-believe-about-holy-communion/

If LGBTIQ* was a description of theological shades of opinion, perhaps B or I might be how best to describe the Anglican position on Eucharist: simultaneously either and both.

‘Michael Curry’

Depending upon context, a sermon can be political speech. ‘Faithfulness’ is either a higher virtue than Love or a higher degree of it. So, yes, as Bishop Curry says, love is from God because God is Love, but God is also faithfulness, or the application of rules of duty to situations when love is imperfect.

Speaking to the likes of Charles, Andrew, George Clooney and possibly every celebrati male there (and perhaps even the Princess Bride and the Prince Groom) who has officially or unofficially ‘loved’ in many beds, is a sermon on love but not on faithfulness flying on one wing to avoid a sea of stoic faces turning to stony?

It’s possible to say of stoic faces outside the church that nobody has remembered the sermon. It’s impossible to say of stony faces outside the church that nobody has remembered the sermon.


roy chen yee | 17 November 2021  

Oh ye of little faith! My research shows that Bishop Michael Curry's reference to Teilhard de Chardin resonated throughout the globe.

It pleased many Catholics, aware that Megan had been contracted in a Catholic marriage that was later annulled.

It spoke to a theology that animates contemporary Christianity and which has greatly contributed to the rift between science and religion.

It was a powerful ecumenical gesture in a land in which, despite the minoritarian demographic status of Catholics, more Catholics attend weekly Mass than Anglicans.

It heralded the entry of a woman of colour to membership of the royal family.

It broke away from the - pardon me - sonorous elocuted delivery of Archbishop Donald Coggan, who ought to have played a more discerning role as chief celebrant at the wedding of Diana and Charles.

It heralded a new liturgical mode for the Church of England, which despite the beauty of the Anglican liturgy, tends to be locked within a historico-cultural silo that resonates mainly with 'High Culture' Englishness and which has stymied evangelisation in the Anglican Church.

Indeed, many theologians attribute the barely papered-over split between Evangelical and High Church Anglicans to the moribund nature of High Anglican liturgy.


Michael Furtado | 31 March 2022  

The term “synod,” Pope Francis regularly points out, means “walking together.” And this can only be accomplished by walking in humility before the Inviolate Word (Will) of God as given within the Gospels.So, in our brokenness, these words it could be said are applicable today

“Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see, but see not, who have ears to hear, but hear not, for they are a rebellious house”

At this moment in time what the church needs is renewal rather than reform so
“In the desert prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God” As in make an honest road (Way) and serve the Truth in humility and in doing so
give hope to all of mankind. Then “Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level and the rough places a plain”

This can only come about through knowing the Holy Spirit for then we shall manifest humble hearts before our Father in heaven and each other as
“Then the glory of the Lord shall be
revealed, and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
And recently said…..Please consider continuing via the link
https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2021/08/26/what-does-pastoral-even-mean-anymore/#comment-276281
kevin your brother
In Christ


Kevin Walters | 12 November 2021  

Peter Johnstone. "The fact that the Church opposed marriage equality in the face of 60% plus support from Catholics, a truly Christian position, [please explain as Pauline would say] is indicative of the imperative for well overdue change." 


john frawley | 13 November 2021  
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John Frawley within the church the problem might be solved (since Pope Francis supports same sex civil unions) if all the priests married each other and/or the so called "brothers", and left the children alone for a change.


Francis Armstrong | 17 November 2021  

My purpose is to share my story, which is a drop in the sea of change affecting the Catholic world. JohnRD will note: it is not a theological piece but one based on religious ethnography and social anthropology. Because I esteem his emphasis on the work of the Spirit, my sense is that to place a full-stop on Revelation is not the Catholic way. Thus do the contributions and inclusion of all enrich the Church, especially when discernment is the topic du jour at this Australian Synodal juncture. As for Kevin's fervorino, sweet and mellow as it is, his suggestions gleaned from 'Catholic World News', plainly reveal their conservative, North American Jesuit provenance, somewhat more divided than our own. I note too and thank Pam, Martin and Peter for their encouragement and especially value Martin's theological and ethical insight about missiology regenerating our somewhat fixed ecclesiology. I'm reminded here that clinging to a patrician lineage for self-preservation never works. The ability to adapt to change, otherwise stymied by self-preservation and a fixed set of 'mores' and social practices, is the way to avoid decline. Extinction was the tragic fate of the dodos, whose habitat ceased to be of adaptive value.


Michael Furtado | 13 November 2021  
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‘Extinction was the tragic fate of the dodos, whose habitat ceased to be of adaptive value.’

Habitats are never of adaptive value. Habitats just are. It is a coincidental resilience in a creature which enables it to overcome the adversity of a changed habitat and to pass the resilience in the form of genetic mutation to its offspring. However, the dodo is an apt illustration for Catholicism, being pushed out of existence by pigs, biblically known for being possessed by demons, and humans, of whom Sartre was to write, ‘Hell is other people.’ The active influence of ‘Hell’, despite only being a residual force since the Crucifixion, is still the intruding force that is a threat to any life within the habitat of Catholicism or any benign form of spirituality.

‘Extinction…tragic fate’

The two are different. The church of ‘Laodicea’ isn’t necessarily going to become extinct (possibly the opposite), but it is fated to be vomited out.


roy chen yee | 14 November 2021  

Thank you Michael for your comment “suggestions gleaned from 'Catholic World News”…. my suggestions were not gleaned from 'Catholic World News' as the almost identical post was made with links on other sites (Not Conservative ones) four months prior.
kevin your brother
In Christ


Kevin Walters | 14 November 2021  

Thank you, Kevin, for the language of sweetness and light in which you regularly cloak what is sure to be recognised by all who read as a conservative theological message, perennially advising prudence and care in stepping forward - always a necessary caution! - but not one that invites endorsement by Isaiah, whose 'Every Valley' invocation, as cited by you, hardly applies to the 'otherworldly', 'transcendental' context in which you, like some others here in regard to John's Gospel and the Pauline Epistles, seem perpetually to be mired in and paralysed by. By way of elucidation, dear Kevin: in the passage that you quote above, Isaiah is boldly advising that the Way of the Lord, and implicitly those of us who follow in the Lord's footsteps, is to exalt the lowly and topple the mighty, a form of scriptural imagery that an undoubtedly prayerful man like you would instantly recognise as reprised in the Magnificat as well as in the Beatitudes. My humble view is that your contributions in this e-journal, while a welcome invitation to reflect, constitute a misreading, a misappropriation and a misapplication of Scripture to ram home a conservative, no-change agenda instead. Your Brother in Christ, Michael


Michael Furtado | 16 November 2021  

Thank you, Michael, for your comment “Isaiah is boldly advising that the Way of the Lord, and implicitly those of us who follow in the Lord's footsteps, is to exalt the lowly and topple the mighty”

The core of the ongoing challenge in understanding the Word (Will) of God is to approach Him incomplete ‘honesty’ for if we do so we will follow His Way one of spiritual enlightenment, as in “repent” (Change direction) leading to a transformation of the human heart into a compassionate humble one, the known dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. Isaiah is a voice of one calling in the wilderness. Yes, one that is calling to both Conservatives and Liberals to walk in humility before Him. As an aside I often feel like a voice in the wilderness as on Conservative sites I am often portrayed as a Protestant or Liberal while on Liberal sites I am accused of being a traditionalist.
Isaiah 40;3-6 “Prepare the way for the Lord in the wilderness; make a straight highway for our God in the desert. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill made low; the uneven ground will become smooth, and the rugged land a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all humanity together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

My personal understanding of Isaiah 40;3-6 “Prepare the way for the Lord in the wilderness” (Brokenness/Lawlessness of our hearts) “make a straight highway (Of Truth wide and open) for our God (The Holy Spirit to enter) “in the desert”
(dryness of it). Then “Every valley (Heart) shall be lifted up, (From baseness) and every mountain and hill (Of pride) made low; the uneven (Distorted) ground will become smooth, and the rugged (Coarse) land (heart) a plain (of humility)
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all humanity together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. And said to us

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”.

Humility is the key for it takes an honest heart to truly see the ‘full’ fallen reality of oneself as in “One Iota” before Him. For then we find self-knowledge (The reality of ourselves) as we reflect in faith on the living inviolate Word/Will of God found within the Gospels while The Holy Spirit prompts/enlightens our understanding of our own brokenness which leads us into humility as a humble heart is a restful heart which is the Holy Spirits known dwelling place.
kevin your brother
In Christ


Kevin Walters | 17 November 2021  

Kevin, Thanks for your lengthy explanation. My concern is that humility and atonement, always important and necessary aspects of a personal Christian spirituality and practice, as expressed by the greatest of the prophets, should not be used to get in the way of justice, for fear that our Church should be mired in paralysis, when long awaited action and renewal is needed. Interventions such as your's can, in the absence of such just action, be read as inflections and exhortations to disengage from the world and, instead, allow ourselves to be sidetracked into navel-gazing. A healthy spirituality doesn't applaud disengagement from this world but instead promotes involvement with and in it. Equally, political and practical action without the opportunity for prayer and reflection, will not achieve the profound metanoia that, whether seen or not, plays a hidden but profound role in healing the Earth.


Michael Furtado | 17 November 2021  

Peter Johnstone. Further to my comment published above, it should be added that the sacraments of the Catholic Church are not subject to change in the light of public opinion. The 60% support of the meaningless "marriage equality" you describe [ie, same sex marriage] doesn't indicate need for change but rather that 60% of Catholics do not understand what marriage and its sacrament really mean. That is a serious failure, particularly when even the great protestant reformers, Henry VIII, Cranmer and Wolsey retained sacramental marriage along with Baptism and Confirmation while abandoning the the hallmarks of Christianity instituted by Christ, viz, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Holy Orders and the Anointing of the Dying. Reform of the dimension sought by some of today's reformers of the Catholic Church has already been achieved in Protestantism. It rather beggars belief that some of today's Catholic reformers spend so much wasted time when what they seek already exists in Christian Churches which in the face of even greater numbers of non-practising members would welcome them with open arms into their empty churches where their anxieties for the future of "Church" would be immediately relieved by the more understanding and sympathetic gender and marriage equality ministry.


john frawley | 14 November 2021  
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John Frawley, 14 Nov 2021. John, it is with respect that I correct you regarding your statement about Anglican sacraments. Time does not permit a full exposition here, however, I suggest you might want to do some reading on the developments regarding Anglican sacraments, including the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion. Suffice to say, there are only two sacraments in Anglicanism: Baptism and the Eucharist. Note that marriage and confirmation are not among them as you say. These, along with holy orders, anointing of the sick, absolution (confession) are considered rites not sacraments.


Thomas Amory | 15 November 2021  

MF: It would be more accurate to say that in matters of Catholic teaching and practice my emphasis is on the Holy Spirit as manifest in the Church's Apostolic tradition, where the successors of Peter and the apostles occupy a special magisterial place in the discernment of and responsibility for what is "de fide" and what is not. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (I, iii, 66-67), consistent with Vatican II's Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, "Dei Verbum", notes that while "no new public revelation is to be expected . . . it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance." In other words, the Church recognizes a development of doctrine, as Newman puts it, that, as history unfolds, is organic, as distinct from disjunctive. The CCC, also in continuity with Vatican II's ecclesiology, specifies the relationship between the magisterium and the sensus fidelium (the latter often appealed to by some commentators in opposition to and even privileged over the former): "Guided by the magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church." This, it seems to me, has critical import for the Church's mission and reform proposals in any era, and for the discernment process that accompanies them.


John RD | 14 November 2021  
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Warmly appreciative of your introduction of Newman to the discussion. Indeed he left an Anglican church that had become atrophied, particularly in its liturgy, which unerringly reflects a theology whose defining characteristics are identified by some to be marked in the main by the Reformation and, for many, by the disastrous collaboration of that Church with the erastian British state of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The notion of the unfolding of history then inevitably begs the question of how our faith has kept pace with history - of the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revoltion, Modernism, the Scientific and Technological Revolutions, Postmodernity and the rest of it, maintaining a critical engagement with a rapidly developing and vibrant global culture rather than pulling up the drawbridge and stagnating, which appears to mark the record, Leo XIII excepting, until Vatican II. This rather makes of the enlightening concept of an organic whole a bit of a Pagliacci's Laugh: the lips smile but the eyes and face shed bitter tears. The only disjuncture I see, apart from the brave contributions of many theologians, lay and religious, are the brakes applied and gears thrown into reverse by those with an iron grip over the magisterium.


Michael Furtado | 15 November 2021  

‘rather than pulling up the drawbridge and stagnating’ Bumpf.

Shooting an arrow into the same-sex dyslogic by asking what about the trophy child missing a connection to a genetic parent is one of the reasons why a magisterium exists: to ensure that the unruly desires within congregations don’t wedge the Institution into a logical cul-de-sac. To quote something a boss (and not even a Christian) told a much younger me many years ago: ‘When the little head gets hard, the big head gets soft.’

Women’s ordination is only one-umpteenth of the pushback against the magisterium. Pretty much all of it, including lay democracy, has to do with sex and the inclination of little heads to be given preference over big heads.

The Magisterium is about preserving the Church’s philosophical consistency over time because that is the only criterion for the reliable transmission of Truth. Anyone can transmit truth in occasional fits and starts. What is needed is agency to transmit truth all the time.

Ensuring that truth is transmitted all the time is why there is a Magisterium.


roy chen yee | 16 November 2021  

The magisterium is about locking the Church into a fourth-century Mediterranean concept of the universe.


Ginger Meggs | 23 November 2021  

I see Newman's conversion as more a response to the "kindly light" that drew him than as mainly attributable to a dissatisfaction with Anglicanism. His courageous pursuit of truth brought him through painstaking intellectual inquiry into full communion with the Church founded historically on Christ and the the Apostles; on earth, a visible faith community guided by the "Spirit of truth" (Jn 14: 16-17; 15: 26; 16; 13-14) Christ bequeathed to sustain it, "even to the ending of the world" (Mtt 28: 20). The fact the Church remains today a recognizable intercultural and international presence, identifiable in teachings and practices that have survived numerous infidelities and defections on the part of its members and varied attempts - from without and within - to cancel or render it other than what it is commissioned to be as "a light to the nations" and a "leaven" in society is evidence not only of extraordinarily impressive durability in the face of human failings, direct persecution and subversion, and the contingencies of historical change, but more so of a substantive unity in considered, publicly articulated faith and morals, and a structural coherence that continues to engage critically with the worlds of art, thought and science, affirming their beneficial contributions to society and culture while confronting when necessary whatever diminishes or subverts the dignity of the individual and the full potential and growth of humanity and creation revealed in Christ's unique incarnation - the event and message accepted as historically decisive, illuminating and salvific by Christ's followers; and one in no way analogous, it seems to me, to the maudlin theatricality of Leoncavallo's operatic clown, but rather more aptly associated with the heralding joy of heavenly singing and the daily Eucharistic celebration of the faithful throughout the world.


John RD | 16 November 2021  

Biographies of Newman cover complex ground from the historical to the theological, especially in an era in which dissection, albeit in respectable, 'truth-seeking', scholarly context, uncovers as much that is controversial as is enlightening.

That Newman left Anglicanism for Catholicism there can be no doubt, but as to why, there is some doubt. Despite the 'Apologia Pro Vita Sua', Newman is known to have been reticent about Vatican I and especially the preeminent role played by Manning in garnering support for the Infallibility dogma.

Newman himself, a considerable scholar with his dearest friends and colleagues still within the Catholic wing of Anglicanism, is known to have been embarrassed by the excess of Ultramontanism that drove this expression of papalist extravagance.

He is thought to have been a Cisalpinist, appropriate to fledgling English & Welsh Catholics requiring the cultural breathing-space that enabled French Catholicism to regroup and renew after the Revolution. It is speculated this cost him Westminster.

Additionally, in contemporary terms, Newman's Catholic identity should uniquely reflect that, while he took vows of celibacy, his most intimate and beloved friend was his fellow Oratorian, Ambrose St John. Without casting doubt on his celibacy that fact should be recognised and celebrated.


Michael Furtado | 31 March 2022  

Oh Calcutta, or is it, Oh, Calcutta? It might be an interesting walk for you down Memory Lane, Michael Furtardo, but how relevant is it? Caste and class have been part of Indian society for aeons, long, long before the Raj. Goa and Kerala are the most Christianised states of India and caste still bedevils Catholicism there. There are specific doors to Goan churches for upper castes and lower castes. The Kerala St Thomas Christians are endogamous, scarcely helpful to spreading the Gospel. Christianity is a small event in the history of India. Abraham Eraly, himself a Malayali Christian from Kerala, was probably the greatest historian of India in the 20th Century. He concentrated on the Early History of India in the Hindu-Buddhist period and the Mogul Empire. What did the British do? Build the infrastructure to exploit the nation's wealth. The Christianity which was there for the British is gone. I look at videos of St Paul's School, Darjeeling and Bishop Cotton School, Shimla, both Anglican and weep. There are no Christians at either. Perhaps Christianity's greatest gift to India was in interacting with progressive Hindus, like the Brahmo Samaj. Indian Christianity's greatest gift to Australian Catholicism is devout young people who are a real part of the future. Forget the hyperconservative priests imported to fill the gap in local vocations. It's the young laity that matter.


Edward Fido | 15 November 2021  
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'O quel cul t'as!', M. Edouard (but with M. le Roy safeguarding us I promise not to touch;) I share your grief about some aspects of indigenous church practice. Indian Catholicism is a 'work in progress' as synodality recognises. Alas, I never thought much of St Paul's and the Bishop Cottons': they lacked a Jesuit presence to shepherd and guide them and fell victim to moneyed interests. (The last Headmaster of St Paul's, Kabir Mukerjee-Mustafi, is a dear friend of mine). Where there is one, as in the Papal Seminary Poona, my late cousin, Noel D'Souza SJ, invited us as Rector to Mass celebrated, Hindu-style, on the floor, surrounding a mandala. For our daughter, Nuala's Baptism, Noel sent us a video of a section of the Kathakali Dance Story performed by two magnificent Malayali Jesuit performers. These cultural incorporations are more than merely cosmetic or symbolic. An Indologist like you would recognise that their influence is more than merely aesthetic and, instead, liturgical, reflecting and bringing to life a theology that seeps into the soul and sets faith ablaze! As one who, like me, has a foot in many camps, you would know that Harvest Sundays have pagan origins. Cheers!


Michael Furtado | 16 November 2021  

And the celebrant? Was he levitating above the mandala? Any kneeling? How did you receive Communion?


roy chen yee | 17 November 2021  

 Roy, the Bread and Wine were passed around the circle, as indeed did the Jesuit Matteo Ricci learn Chinese and incorporate many Chinese cultural idioms in his celebration of the Sacraments across the entire repertoire of his pastoral and liturgical practice. This accounts for why so many mainland Chinese are Catholic. I once had a Chinese prie dieu that I used as a desk. While these were an obvious adaptation of a European import, many Asian and African Catholics wisely sit cross-legged while praying. There's much more cultural adaptation to exigencies in Europe too than meets the eye. In many parts of Western Europe those who pray sit on a chair that's attached to a prie dieu behind it. In Holland many post-Reformation churches are located above schools because of penal restrictions on churches owning land after the Reformation Settlement. The 'form' of things can surely sometimes constitute a fetish if carried to (e.g. 'baroque', as in the case of the Mittel-Europ Jesuits and Benedictines?) extremes. No?


Michael Furtado | 04 December 2021  

‘the Bread and Wine were passed around the circle’ It’s very fraternal for sheep to feed sheep but the shepherd’s the one who should be doing the feeding, unless you believe in the democracy of the laity and the sheep electing the shepherd. Symbolism has implications.


’sit cross-legged’ The operative word being ‘sit’ because, by culture and habit, sitting cross-legged, squatting or kneeling while resting on your heels can become a comfortable position, while supporting your weight on two knees isn’t a resting posture anywhere in the world, as far as I can tell, supporting on two knees, that is, not leaning against something on two knees (unless lack of health so demands).


‘cultural adaptation to exigencies’ Feeding new believers with milk instead of meat. Eventually, they’ll have to do only with meat.


‘The 'form' of things can surely sometimes constitute a fetish if carried to…extremes.’ Kneeling isn’t carried to extremes during a Mass.


roy chen yee | 06 December 2021  

Roy, re. your quibble of 6/XII/21, I well recall Fr Chamberlain, an eminent Canadian Jesuit and colleague of the multi-talented Bernard Lonergan SJ, leading us in retreat in Grade Nine. He noted that the tendency in teenagers was to slouch and speculated at some length as to why. 'Your bodies are at the stage of their fastest rate of growth,' he said, adding: 'Soon you'll be sprouting facial hair', as well as all the other impulses that you and I were undoubtedly given to at the time in terms of the humanity that Jesus also shared with us. There will come a time at the other end of life,' he continued, 'when you will be glad of a seat behind you on which to rest an enlarged derriere (Yes; we studied French) while resting your elbows on the kneeler ahead of you. The Church is kindly and understanding and makes provision for us throughout that long sojourn on Earth that we call Life. Until that time comes, I would like you to kneel when we pray.' That being a time when the Indian liturgy, reaping the enormous harvest of conversion hadn't kicked in, we complied. Today I enjoy the 'three-point-landing'.


Michael Furtado | 07 December 2021  

Good try, Michael, but it seems that the Spirit which once moved upon the face of the waters has now had Its wings clipped by the magisterium. John Robinson's reminder to the Mayflower emigrants the 'the Lord hath yet more truth and light to break forth from His Word' is surely pertinent here.


Ginger Meggs | 15 November 2021  
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Well posted, Ginger! But never fear: there came along another John Robinson with his 'Honest to God' almost exactly 500 years later who revivified British Christianity by showing how it inflects and influences the secular world. There is hope yet, even though the pusillanimously faint-hearted among us, in preference to seeing it, choose to ring down on us their death-knell of doom and gloom, poor miserable dispirited false prophets that they are.


Michael Furtado | 16 November 2021  

No, Ginger (15/11): rather, "the Spirit that once moved on the face of the waters" spread Its divinely ample wings to the historical process in Christ's bequest to His Church.


John RD | 16 November 2021  

Not to disagree, JRD, but in the Se Cathedral, Old Goa (the oldest Catholic ecclesiastical building in Asia) the highly filigreed C15th rose gold Portuguese Monstrance takes the shape of a pelican. What's noteworthy in its design is that it makes no reference whatsoever to your 'outstretched' wings but to a Pelican piercing its bosom, promising, as it were, to make its 'precious blood' available to all who drink it. Given that the imagery is likely to appeal to a certain category of salivating straight male when viewing the stupendous decolletage of the American songstress, Ms Dolly Parton, who has generously donated half her fortune to vaccinating the poor against Covid, might I suggest that you give due consideration to employing her image as a cypher for Christ's love for us. I can assure you, as a cultural theorist, that the use of such an image would bring errant men back to the Church in droves. After all, evangelisation commands that we engage in what it takes to bring our lost sheep back to the fold. Ms Parton's glad eye, in that regard, could do a great deal more to fill the pews than Fr Peyton's Rosary Crusade, n'est pas?


Michael Furtado | 23 November 2021  

Oops! Ne c'est pas!


Michael Furtado | 25 November 2021  

Until the fourth century, perhaps, John, but after that ossification. I was watching Brian Cox's new series the other night and reflecting on how our understanding of the universe has developed over millennia, not just incrementally but in revolutionary steps as well, and comparing that to absence of any comparable development in our understanding of its creator.


Ginger Meggs | 26 November 2021  

Well, if that's the case, perhaps the observation is an argument for the Christian doctrine of original sin, Ginger. As a car sticker I saw recently read: "If God seems far, guess who moved away."(I readily admit to serious reservations with accepting the new 'grand narrative' of science-techno as dogma).


John RD | 27 November 2021  

You've lost me John. How does the ossification of the Church's understanding of the creator relate to the doctrine of original sin? Surely the persistent attachment to the literal truth of the garden/serpent/Eve/Adam story is an example of that ossification? But maybe I'm not understanding your point. As to your bracketed addendum, if what you mean by 'the new 'grand narrative"' is the view that Cox was putting, then I wouldn't see it as 'dogma' (i.e. incontrovertibly true principles) either, nor I suspect would Cox.


Ginger Meggs | 28 November 2021  

There are plenty of gay clergy. About 80% of sexual abuse victims were male, and the average age of victims about 2010(?) was about 15 years.


marita | 16 November 2021  

Some of the comments submitted on Michael Furtado's article rely on an unquestioning commitment to tradition in Church teachings, regardless of new knowledge and experience - a position promoted by many conservative bishops. All of us are responsible for acting on our informed consciences, but many bishops have failed to learn from the sense of faith of the faithful, or even to be interested in invaluable knowledge and experience from which many of them seem isolated.

Church teaching must learn and adapt in applying the teachings of Jesus and revelation to the signs of the times. To take just one example that seems to disturb those resistant to any such adaptation or learning, science has taught us that humans (and other animals) can be born with other than binary sexual preferences. Jesus has taught us to love one another, a fundamental teaching that demands respect for all others. Condemning the God-given sexual preferences of others is simply not Christian.

The foolishness, and the injustice, of such ill-informed condemnation is reminiscent of the Church's condemnation of Galileo for declaring that the Earth revolves around the sun.


Peter Johnstone | 17 November 2021  
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Peter Johnstone:

‘science has taught us that humans (and other animals) can be born with other than binary sexual preferences.’

Science also tells us that non-binary ‘sex’ (well, masturbation) doesn’t produce offspring. Social science tells us that children want to know who their natural parents are. Natural science tells us it is significant to know natural lineages because genes transmit characteristics. Were the non-binaries content to staff their households with cats and chihuahas as emotional companions, perhaps some social accommodations can be made. But, they want to simulate real households by staffing their households with made-to-order children who will be denied nurture by one line of their provenance.

‘Jesus has taught us to love one another, a fundamental teaching that demands respect for all others.’

Indeed, so why aren’t non-binaries respecting the rights of children?

‘Condemning the God-given sexual preferences of others is simply not Christian.’

Not only is it Christian but it is universally loving to seek to disabuse a human being of irrationality given that the foundation of a human being is the responsibility to seek the rationality that comes from being in the image and likeness of God.


roy chen yee | 17 November 2021  

Catholic Church teaching on human sexuality does, in fact, demand "respect for all others": it maintains the principle of equality in the expectation of chaste conduct on the part of all.


John RD | 18 November 2021  

Like giving an ice-cream to someone and telling them not to lick, John RD (18/XI)? (I can see how you ran into problems with your teaching, on your own admission). Don't you think that one-and-a-half-liner ripostes like this deserve deeper and more respectful comment in case your appreciation of Catholic 'equality' somewhat reduces the Church's teaching on both human sexuality as well as human rights?


Michael Furtado | 29 December 2021  

Re: Michael Furtado’s problem with John RD’s ‘riposte’: ‘expectation of chaste conduct on the part of all.’


‘Like giving an ice-cream to someone and telling them not to lick’


You mean, like giving someone a forest and telling them that a certain tree is not for touching?


‘Don’t you think….your appreciation of Catholic 'equality' somewhat reduces the Church's teaching on both human sexuality as well as human rights?’


In the light of your ice cream example, you mean a wife who disdains sodomy is restricting the range of her disturbed husband’s enjoyment of sexuality and interfering with his human rights?


roy chen yee | 22 January 2022  

In response to your other lurid question, Roy, a woman whose husband asked for anal sex would be entitled to say 'no', both as a matter of adult personal choice as well as in fidelity to Church teaching on Natural Law.


Michael Furtado | 24 January 2022  

‘entitled to say 'no', both as a matter of adult personal choice as well as in fidelity to Church teaching on Natural Law.’

Still with the evasion. It’s ‘obliged to say ‘no’ in fidelity to Church teaching on Natural Law’, adult personal choice being irrelevant, and, if fidelity applies to women, it applies also to men. In any case, you’ve answered your question ‘Like giving an ice-cream to someone and telling them not to lick, John RD (18/XI)?’ by sinking it.


roy chen yee | 27 January 2022  

Your QED lacks logic, Roy. An ice-cream's for licking. Indelicate as it may be to drive the point home, the other - for aesthetic as well as hygienic reasons - is assuredly not.


Michael Furtado | 06 February 2022  

There have always been same sex attracted clergy, Marita. Whether St Paul was a celibate gay has been argued about for ages. There is a great difference in being same sex attracted and sexually assaulting children. Most gays do not, as far as I am aware, assault children. It is the same with most heterosexuals. I have known genuinely gay and celibate clergy.


Edward Fido | 18 November 2021  
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Thank you for your fair-mindedness, Edward!


Michael Furtado | 08 December 2021  

Peter Johnstone. If you wish to support your position by referring to the findings of science, as a non-scientist you clearly fail to realise that controversial or unproved statements such as the one you make here, viz, that ["... humans (and other animals) can be born with other than binary sexual preferences ..."] you must provide the appropriate references to support the statement. Otherwise what is claimed is a waste of space.


john frawley | 18 November 2021  
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Thanks for your critical question, John. Medical Professor Charles Roselli of Oregon Health & Science University, Portland is globally renowned for investigating this research question, his scientific answer to which was enough to 'swing the vote' of Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen of Portland, who threw open his Cathedral and archdiocese to the equal treatment of homosexual persons once he had read Roselli's research. Roselli's empirical research, independent of the cultural terms in which homosexuality was hitherto justified and explained, shows that all sexuality relates to five (not two) sexes so binarial categorisation is both anti-scientific as well as bogus, relying upon precisely the same cultural theorising that binarialists scorn in others and which is purely a product of a dishonest prejudice drawn from those who appeal to science to prove their case but who, in this instance, are embarrassingly 'scientifically unread'. Hence, until recently, and as you ought to know, hospitals reassigned a child's sex to correspond with either one or the other of those two majority, so-called 'normative', sex categorisations, which, of course, they do not automatically do anymore in developed and educated parts of the world. Thus the foundations of the theory upon which heteronormativity's claim to scientific proof lie are egregiously flawed. When I taught at The University of Newcastle, my chaplain, Dominic Carrigan CSsR, a dear friend of mine, stated that the Vatican would have to eat its hat if science proved homosexuality to be normative. Well; we're still waiting, and while we wait, we can excuse those who disagree as fools, though hardly now that you've had the courage to ask your question! This includes the entire panoply of Catholic bioethicists who, if they had an ethical bone in their body, should resign en messe but who place their discredited loyalty to a flawed Thomist construction of what is called Natural Law above their personal and professional integrity!

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6677266/


Michael Furtado | 18 November 2021  

In absence of a reply from Peter Johnstone (18/XI/21) I have one for you, John RD. During the holidays I have been reading Ed Ayres' 'Whole Notes' (ABC Books, 2021). Written by an eminent musician and transgendered person, it is palpably about the celebration of life, itself transitory and hardly a static journey, requiring the collaboration of God and the human person and concerning a phenomenon unknown to us until relatively recently, viz. the difference between biological sex and gender identity that demands a solution.

Moreover it explores the personal story of the spirituality and not simply the surgery, that saved Ayres' life, a focus that the Church holds dear above all else, especially when life itself is threatened, as much by others as by dysphoria, such as depression, mania and other anxiety disorders.

The development of the psychological sciences, especially in recent times, to keep pace with the occurrence and treatment of new 'dis-ease', is one explanation for why we Catholics have and revere the Papal Academy of the Sciences, to which are invited eminent scientists, theologians and other scholars from around the globe, not all of them Catholic or Natural Lawyers, to address such baffling but evident phenomena.


Michael Furtado | 24 January 2022  

Deep within every life, John, no matter how assailed or under threat it may seem from the outside, there is something eternal happening. This is the secret way that change and possibility conspire with growth. Newman summed this up beautifully when he said, 'To grow is to change and to be perfect is to have changed often.' Change, therefore, need not be threatening; it can in fact bring our lives to perfection. Perfection is not shutting the door. Neither is it avoidance of risk and danger in order to keep the soul pure or the conscience unclouded. Fidelity doesn't mean to batten down the hatches, but to risk the ambivalence of growth and to be vulnerable. Consider 'renewal': it can never be static, no matter how much we crave after surety and certainty. That kind of religiosity becomes a prison and a trap. That's why there's a Synod. I hope you can begin to see areas of stagnation or stick-at-it-ness as opportunities for growth and the expression of your full potential. Our faith becomes atrophied unless we risk certainty for ambivalence and growth. It is in these areas of our lives that we can fully express a faith made alive.


Michael Furtado | 18 November 2021  
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This is a just a long-winded way of insisting that the trophy child must bear the loss (no, confiscation) of nurture within a biological line of provenance, or that children should put up with a strange dad or mum in their ‘blended’ families accompanying them to church and communion on Sundays, isn’t it? It’s been said so often that it’s now a trope but its truth still stands: the more high flown (or is it full-blown) the argument, the more important it is to skip ahead to see what mundane or profane (in both their colloquial and technical senses) self-interest is being served.


roy chen yee | 19 November 2021  

Roy, We have dealt before with this repetitious argument of yours ad infinitum. Therefore it has to stop at some stage if your voice is not to be ignored.

I abhor the notion of a trophy child and do not in any way, shape or form endorse the biological manufacture of children as pets or trophies. Children are gifts of God who, at times, are wrenched from the nurture and care of one or other (and, even more tragically, sometimes, both) of their natural parents, through divorce, accident or parental irresponsibility.

When this happens, immense care is taken by extraordinary persons entrusted with supervisory responsibilities to place them in the care of equally extraordinary persons with the generosity to share their love and kindness as adults with the non-biological child/children in their care.

This is always a highly challenging role, requiring the exercise of care, selflessness and generosity of spirit, including attentiveness to the material well being of children, in respect of which you and I ought to know as Catholics and citizens that there are widespread, deeply thought-out ethical requirements for vetting parents as well as for the safeguarding of children.

Your 'harpings-on' about this suggest deeply held prejudices!


Michael Furtado | 18 January 2022  

And you're avoiding (yet again) the fact that 'adoption' is not what you have called elsewhere 'co-creation' and that 'co-creation' in the setting of the homosexual couple is what makes the 'trophy' child separated from nurture in one line of its genetic provenance.


roy chen yee | 22 January 2022  

Where have I said that, Roy (22/1)?


Michael Furtado | 17 March 2022  

Michael Furtado: the "change" endorsed by Newman refers to a deepening and continuous understanding of and ongoing conversion to "the mystery of faith" entrusted specifically by Christ to his Church, whose four marks (unity, holiness, catholicity and apostolicity) derive from what Christ himself has accomplished, and which his followers through baptism share in and are called to appropriate, personally and as a community, throughout history. I find it necessary to place this emphasis because the sort of change you call for often in "Eureka Street" strikes me as deriving more from secular culture and ideology than from the Church's deposit of faith and the development of its understanding through the apostolic tradition initiated by Christ in his calling and commissioning of Peter and the Twelve. I might add that I do not regard Newman's profound intellectual and spiritual endeavour as an apologia for the "ambivalence" which you make to be a virtue; and also that I wonder just where the evangelical risk is in conforming to a secularist revisioning of the Gospel and the Catholic tradition.


John RD | 19 November 2021  

I attach the Homily given by Frank Brennan SJ at the Mass at Newman College Melbourne, celebrating the First Assembly of the Fifth Plenary Council. Granted that, in the end, none of us can lay claim to reading Newman's mind on what he meant, I think that any neutral observer, reading Fr Brennan's words, would take the view that Newman meant what I have understood from his writing on p. 2 of Frank's sermon, and not what you have:

https://view.officeapps.live.com/op/view.aspx?src=https%3A%2F%2Fnewman.unimelb.edu.au%2Fuploads%2Fevents%2FHomily%25203.10.21.docx&wdOrigin=BROWSELINK


Michael Furtado | 19 November 2021  

Thank you, Michael, for alerting me to Fr Frank Brennan's homily in which, in concluding, he quotes St Paul's Letter to the Philippians (1: 27): "Be united in your conviction and united in your love, with a common purpose and a common mind." In the context of the Church's renewal, (about the need for which, like Fr Brennan, I'm in no need of persuading), Paul's exhortation begs the question of how united conviction is to be achieved. I understand myself as one who in matters of faith and morals freely accepts being guided and bound by the official teachings of the Apostolic tradition's magisterium, in this sense, living "under" this same tradition. I do not see how the critical and very practical issue of unity to which all followers of Christ are called can be resolved by appeal to "the People of God" as "masters of the Apostolic tradition" when there are serious divisions - even affecting our understanding of what love is - requiring not only discernment but also adjudication among this very People. Further, the following lines from Newman's Sermon XXII, "The Gospel, a Trust committed to us," do not impress me as the theological disposition or style of one given to "ambivalence":
"This, then, is the meaning of St Paul's injunction in the text, [1 Tim. 6: 21-22] given at the time when the Truth was first published: "Keep that which is committed to thy trust," or rather, "keep the deposit [of faith]"; turn away from those "profane emptinesses" which pretenders to philosophy and science bring forward against it. Do not be moved by them; do not alter your Creed for them; for the end of such men is error. They go on disputing and refining, give new meanings, modifying received ones, still with the idea of the True Faith in their minds as the scope of their inquiries; but at length they "miss" it. They shoot on one side of it, and embrace a deceit of their own instead of it."


John RD | 20 November 2021  

‘none of us can lay claim to reading Newman's mind on what he meant’

What we can lay claim to, as an act of charity towards him as a gifted scholar if nothing else, is that Newman was aware of James 1:17 and that his statement was a deliberate use of paradox towards and not a contradiction of the scripture, the truth of which is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit. Repeating the mantra without explaining it doesn’t support the truth of it. It’s only an appeal to authority, in this case Newman’s stature. But if the authority is speaking in riddles, without explaining the riddle the appeal to authority cannot even start to be made.

Perfection has no shadow of change because, with it, there is only a binary. Something is either perfect or imperfect. There are no two states of perfection. God, being perfect, is always in one state. Humans are imperfect and are always trying to change for the better. Being fallible, each they make change is likely to be itself insufficient and in need of further change. The closest representation to perfection we can see in a form which we can understand, internalise and repeat for ourselves and in recommendation to others is words from Scripture. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, the scripture which Israel Folau was intending to repeat, either means that (male) homosexual practice is wrong or that (male) homosexual practice in the context of some kind of servant or prostitution role is wrong.
Until that interpretation is settled, it’s putting the cart before the horse to validate any sacramental or pseudo-sacramental affirmation of consensual male homosexual practice. The Anglican Communion has been through this, with some choosing to go into effective schism by innovation. And, with women, as usual often being an afterthought (possibly a penalty of Eve’s expropriation of authority to deal with the fruit), the question of female homosexual practice can’t even be addressed until the issue of male homosexuality is settled.

The Pope has said that this synodal process is about conversation. He could mean that, at the very least, conversation is needed before the Church Militant can assess what to do about doctrine. That’s fair enough. So, the ball is in the court of reformers to provide arguments for change in the language appropriate to technical expertise in what the words of Scripture mean. Mundane arguments pointing to ‘social’ or ‘cultural’ change (ie., what nice pagans are now doing) isn’t enough to cut that mustard, the mustard being that Scripture, being in the world but not of it, cannot be changed simply because of changes in the world.


roy chen yee | 21 November 2021  

Thanks for your's and Roy's of 20/11 and 21/11 respectively. Acknowledging your habitual recourse to exegesis to prove your point, I might leave it to Fr Brennan to specify the context in which he wrote, which appears to support Newman's 'change' view. Roy may not be mollified by this, seeing that he has criticised the Pope and Jesuit Superior General on various occasions in this forum. I doubt if Pope Francis would concur with any of his views. That said, and hard fought as this exchange can often be, I am committed to the conversation that the Holy Father encourages and have little endorsement for the views of those who shrug their shoulders and maintain their silence, other than to bless all those who read and who, hopefully, endorse the flexibility and responsibility to have an open mind that presumably all synodalists, including the Bishops, are asked to during this period of discernment. That additionally said, I would respond that Paul's Letter to Timothy is replete with tensions and contradictions that make it not the most reliable of epistles, e.g. his endorsement of slavery. Bishop Michael Nasir-Ali, a conservative convert to Catholicism from Anglicanism, also endorses 'openness to New Knowledge'.


Michael Furtado | 22 November 2021  

MF: Where, in the actual passage (I Tim 1: 3-7) that heads Paul's concerns and instruction for the faith community at Ephesus, are there relevant "tensions and contradictions" of the kind you claim compromise the reliability of the letter? The concern that takes priority of place in this passage (1: 3-7) is doctrinal integrity and the gospel's authentic transmission, which has direct import for the identity, unity, peace and growth of the young Ephesian community of Christians, including respect and harmony between masters and slaves. Elsewhere, Paul instructs baptized slaves, if opportunity presents, to be free of chattel enslavement, while encouraging them to be mindful of the freedom and equality in Christ they have already received in baptism (1 Cor 7: 21-22; Gal 3: 25-28; Col 3: 11). Further, my "habitual recourse to exegesis" is usually occasioned by doctrinaire assertions filtered through prescriptive epistemic lenses of critical race and gender theory.


John RD | 23 November 2021  

Rev Dr Michael Nazir-Ali is quoted recently as follows by Chinaza Jules on his decision to leave the Anglican Church for full communion with the Catholic Church: "The Church Councils and synods are permeated by activists who each have a single-issue, often faddish agenda, whether it is about cultural correctness, 'climate change', identity politics, multiculturalism (which actually encourages communities to live separately), or critical theory on race, religion and gender - a neo-Marxist theory developed to create conflict by dividing people into victims and villains." No evidence here of the sort of 'openness to New Knowledge' you wish to promote, MF (22/11).

Link: https://igettalk.com/2021/rev-michael-nazir-anglican.html


John RD | 26 November 2021  

In this protracted conversation about where Newman stood on 'openness to new knowledge' both Roy (21/11) and John (23/11, 26/11) attach the ultimate importance to both of Paul's Letters to Timothy.

At the end of Timothy 1 Paul says: 'Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called 'knowledge', for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.' The prior instructions in the Letter are clearly intended to set the template for a priesthood and diaconate that intensely reflects the culture of the times, in which women are depicted as the subordinates of men. Additionally, Paul explains the Fall entirely in terms of Eve's seduction of Adam.

Beautiful though the Letter is, it is far from being Paul's best, but instead written to a small subsection of the Church of his times laying out a rule to be followed after his impending death.

2 Timothy 2:14 onwards continues this line of instruction, warning against false teachers and laying down a party-line that is at odds with Paul's other Letters, which are addressed to people, faithed or otherwise, and which steer clear of 'house-keeping'.

Newman and Nazir-Ali intend that New Knowledge cannot be critically examined while censoring it!


Michael Furtado | 31 March 2022  

Ginger, a programmatically optimistic doctrine of its philosophes drove the Enlightenment idea of natural and inevitable progress, which, by and large, wrongly deemed the Christian teaching on original sin and the need for God's grace obstructive and unnecessary (summed up in Napoleon's pragmatic: "God? I have no need of that hypothesis"); in philosophical and theological terms, a mixture of 5th century BC classical Greek humanism (Protagoras' "Man is the measure of all things" and 4th-5th century AD Pelagianism. I mention this intoxicating intellectual stance (sobered but not eliminated by the Lisbon earthquake that disturbed, as Voltaire satirically exposes in "Candide", the Leibnizian illusion that everything is for the best in this best of possible worlds) in response to your comment (26/11) as a possible reason for theological insight and growth not being as immediately evident - I wouldn't say "ossified" - as scientific advancement, the latter being a method of inquiry capable of empirical verification and, rapid, spectacular results, and the former being based on a vison of life informed by divine revelation, requiring an openness to faith and the grace bestowed by the merits of Christ through it - neither as directly tangible or immediately manifest, indeed, spectacular, as many scientific achievements in recent times. This is not to say, however, that there has been no constructive, contemporary contribution by theology to dialogue between science and the Christian religion, and a developing appreciation of the complementary roles of the two in the pursuit of truth and its practical implications, as evidenced, for instance, in the growing field of bioethics, and in the 2012 address of Pope Benedict XVI to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (which had its official origins in the 17th century). Benedict said: "Dialogue and co-operation between faith and science are urgently needed for building a culture that respects people and the planet. . .Without faith and science informing each other, the great questions of humanity leave the domain of reason and truth and are abandoned to the irrational, to myth, or to indifference, with great damage to humanity itself, to world peace and to our ultimate destiny." A message actively pursued in the pontificate of Francis, his successor. My reference to a science-techno 'grand narrative' is to the truncated and totalizing usurpation and its proselytizing of the vision of human reality and potential by high media-profile scientists like Richard Dawkins and their sensationalist appeal. Dawkins, who dismisses God as unreal and belief in God as "delusion", and who makes his case on the mistaken supposition that the Christianity portrays the book of Genesis as read by all Christians to be a scientific account of the origins of the universe and all it contains.


John RD | 28 November 2021  
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Thanks for the full and prompt response John. At the moment, I can only acknowledge it because I'm occupied with other matters, but I'll be back before long with more comment. :)


Ginger Meggs | 30 November 2021  

Since Ginger, whose brief interjections I value very highly, is busy with other pressing matters, John, and your post covers a wealth of information that begs a response, I would like to ask: aren't some portrayals of God, in the eyes of educated Catholics at the very least, 'delusional' ?


Michael Furtado | 07 December 2021  

Such as regarding the Holy Spirit as 'she'?


roy chen yee | 08 December 2021  

Why Ever Not (if each one of us is made in God's image)? What is so intrinsically wrong with the use of that personal pronoun if half of Creation is female? Or do you think of all women as 'fallen' in the manner of the execrable temptress Eve?


Michael Furtado | 18 January 2022  

‘What is so intrinsically wrong with the use of that personal pronoun if half of Creation is female?’

Genesis says that ‘the Lord’ appeared to Abraham at Mamre as three men.


roy chen yee | 22 January 2022  

It doesn't say this, Roy. The Trinitarian teaching is about Three PERSONS in One God. The use of the word 'person' is to indicate that God is beyond the gender stereotypes that you, as a scriptural fundamentalist, mistakenly insist upon.


Michael Furtado | 17 March 2022  


JohnRD (26/XI/2021), while commiserating with Anglicans in their great loss of +Michael Nazir-Ali, I welcome him into our Fold and completely agree with his multidimensional comments about the disparate forces that our Sister English-speaking Church has to perennially contend with. In my view it is precisely the absence of a unifying papal culture that exacerbates the tensions and contradictions in our Sister Church that also hallmark her courageous attitude to open discussion and tolerance of alternative approaches that sometimes also scare us Catholics into placing compliance above integrity. For our part, while we privilege hierarchical authority over what may seem like anarchy, the culture and structure of an overwhelmingly male and highly centralised curial administration, much of it relying upon deference to Papal authority over efficiency, pathologically affects, by Pope Francis' own admission, the Church to which you and I belong and which we both fiercely love. Since my essay was ethnographic, drawing attention to culture-specific questions that until now have not surfaced in synodal discussion, and which, it may reasonably be argued, your absolute and unbudging theological obeisance to the magisterium will not entertain, it is reasonable to ask if you ever don non-theological lenses through which to discuss.


Michael Furtado | 30 November 2021  
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To me, Michael, it's not a matter of "privileging" hierarchical authority; it's rather a matter of accepting the Christ-initiated Apostolic structure of the faith-community of which he is the head. (And, at the risk of superfluity, in answer to your question, in matters of Catholic Church teaching and its bearing on practice, no - especially when claims are advanced for non-theologically contexted and justified ideas supplanting magisterial teaching on faith and morals).


John RD | 01 December 2021  

Well then, John RD, that's a very great pity because ethnography and magisteriality are two completely different epistemes and, with respect, unless you are able and/or willing to engage with the terms in which this conversation is occurring, you really ought not to be posting here.


Michael Furtado | 29 December 2021  

I well recognize "ethnology and magisteriality" as distinct sources, MF. My point is that you, with the socio-political scientific fideism displayed regularly in your call for radical revision of Church teachings and ecclesial structure, seeking thereby to privilege complexity over clear teaching, and cognitive elites over the common faithful, do not.


John RD | 22 January 2022  

Thanks also, John RD, for you panegyric on Paul to Tim and numerous others (23/XI) which I've just come to after the luxury of an escape over Christmas. I accept that he's been either misquoted or misunderstood, both on slavery as well as women, but the mere presence of ambiguity suggests that he spoke as a man of his times and not in the one in which we live. That, in itself, should be cause enough for thought at this juncture of our development as Church, especially when you close the hatches with a remark like 'prescriptive epistemic lenses of critical race and gender theory'. No ongoing revelation for you, it seems, but instead the enslavement of the closed mind.


Michael Furtado | 29 December 2021  

"No ongoing revelation for you. . ." Not quite, MF: a number ES contributions by me distinguish between what has been revealed as essential for faith and indispensable to its integrity, ending with the death of the last apostle, and its developed historical understanding as articulated by Newman and others in the living tradition of the Church. Abundant scope for an open-mindedness grounded in the Church's Magisterium in this process.


John RD | 22 January 2022  

Except, JohnRD (22/I/22), that such an entelechy is hardly static but open always to reinterpretation and renewal.

For example, St John Newman's canonisation, a full century after his death, simply confirms that he ascended to the Calendar of Saints a long time ago, when his example and impact held much more important currency and context than they do today.

An intelligent person like you hardly suggests that, apart from our waiting as a faith community for his case to meet the required test of miracles, he was kept waiting in the wings until now.

Such an inflection hardly honours the notion of Saints for All Times, which is what the Church is sent to promote, but instead perpetually honours the memory of those locked into historical time and place, and who while available for us as examples to be followed and whose intercession we should invoke, are disadvantaged by a perpetual time-lag that reinforces the orthodoxy to which you are wedded to the exclusion of all else that is contemporaneous and of greater and more important cultural context.

Such a 'locked-in' view atrophies spiritual growth and deeper understanding while constantly 'back-footing' the Church, constructing it as reactionary and lacking currency.


Michael Furtado | 24 January 2022  

The Anglican Communion in general was quite surprised when Michael Nazir-Ali crossed the Tiber, as he was a Conservative Evangelical more in the Sydney and Global South mould. A fact conveniently forgotten in welcoming him into the Ordinariate is he was baptised Catholic and hence should have returned to the mainstream. He was very strong for the rights of his fellow Christians in his native Pakistan, although, for safety's sake, he did not return there. He was a strong opponent of Radical Islam. It is good of you to be so enthusiastic about welcoming him, Michael, because he was unsympathetic to same sex attracted people. I am unsure how happy he will be in the Ordinariate because they are predominantly Anglo-Catholic. He is also used to being the leader and they already have an Ordinary.


Edward Fido | 03 December 2021  
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Thanks, Edward. While broadly agreeing with your classification of Anglicans into High Churchmen and Conservative Scriptural Evangelicals, I regard your typology as somewhat 'over-rubrical' in terms of absolving us Roman Catholics and High Anglicans of any interest in and commitment to evangelisation, to which we are all called by virtue of our Baptism. In Catholic terms this evangelising aspect of our commitment is addressed through 'missiology', which is the theology of mission. Missiology is founded in both Scriptural as well as Papal teaching on the Fullness of Life to which we are all called (e.g. Micah's 'Walk Humbly, Love Tenderly, Act Justly' injunction as well as in John, X:10). Otherwise we concede to conservative evangelicals the field of conversion, which is not at all about salvific Christian 're-branding', but about bringing about the Kingdom of Justice & Peace. +Michael Nazir-Ali is a justice proponent extraordinaire, which suggests that your classification needs fine-tuning! Thanks for raising the question of my sexuality, which is not at all central to my following Jesus, except in terms of His Commandment to Love. Sexuality is but part of the complex machinery of human response that we bring to that Commandment, as I'm sure you appreciate.


Michael Furtado | 03 December 2021  

Thanks all who have engaged in the ethnographic dialogue that I had hoped would be triggered by my account. Ethnography is a newish field and not one with which a large and monolithic organisation like our Catholic Church is comfortable, so it is to be expected that some here have fallen back upon doctrinal positions to express their always impressive but generally conservative views.

There are additional aspects of my account that show how an attention to contemporary exigencies, which ethnography emphasizes, saved and enhanced the missiological standing of the Church.

In 1960 the Belgians, who served the Bengal Province, were thrown out of the Congo. Within a year their forces conspired to assassinate the Congolese PM, Patrice Lumumba. India, then the leader of the Non-Aligned World, was drawn into responding to this outrage and hundreds of thousands took to the streets to express their horror.

Some clergy (like some here whose politics stop at 1960) justified Lumumba's assassination as 'anti-communist'. Fr Antoine, a very impressive Bengali-speaking Belgian, arranged for Archbishop Perier to resign and be succeeded by an Indian, Archbishop Dyer (himself short-lived and succeeded by Cardinal Picachy).

This advanced clerical decolonisation, triggering a period of dramatic Catholic evangelisation.


Michael Furtado | 03 December 2021  
Show Responses

‘triggering a period of dramatic Catholic evangelisation’

Which produced priests whom you don’t want coming here.


roy chen yee | 06 December 2021  

Again you make a travesty of my position. I welcome missiologists, but not imported priests to officiate at the Eucharist because the Australian Faithful will not 'offer' them for ordination under the culturally exclusive and limiting conditions that the canon on ordination currently insists upon and which is harming the Australian Province of the Catholic Church. Moreover a priest is much more than a person divinely empowered to officiate at the Eucharist and some imported clergy lack the inculturated skills to act as pastors. Thirdly, in case you haven't understood my point about culture, it is dynamic and it therefore happens that there is a growing shortage of priestly supply in India, as a consequence of which they too will eventually have to address what is to be done about this, not just in terms of denying us access to their so-called over-supply, but also to the point of the Universal Church being forced to address the question of women's ordination. Finally, ask any well-formed priest, and especially a Jesuit, in any part of the world about this and he is likely to explain that the role of a priest is far more multi-faceted than restricting it to saying Mass.


Michael Furtado | 07 December 2021  

‘ask any well-formed priest, and especially a Jesuit….’ Like Father Sosa, who doesn’t believe in the Devil?


roy chen yee | 08 December 2021  

‘Australian Faithful will not 'offer' them for ordination under the culturally exclusive and limiting conditions that the canon on ordination currently insists upon and which is harming the Australian Province of the Catholic Church.’

The ‘Australian Faithful’ are ‘harming the Australian Province of the Catholic Church’ by being short on the Faith.

‘under the culturally exclusive and limiting conditions that the canon on ordination currently insists upon’

The Episcopal Church of the United States has everything you want but it’s not making any inroads into the unchurched. Why should things be different here? Western Christianity is just in an ebb stage at the moment. There’s no reason to fix something that isn’t broken but an ebb stage is a good time to make yourself more efficient for when the tide turns and the world is ready to be evangelised again.

This is just a long-game thing but the problem with the long run is attrition of identity to the world, the flesh and Father Sosa's nonexistent Devil.


roy chen yee | 09 December 2021  

Roy, I have by now read extensively Fr Sosa's contribution to your favourite topic of the devil (Dec 9) as well as several commentaries on it. It is as clear as crystal that he confronts the presence of the devil in all of us, including yourself. I realise that your long colloquy on this topic attempts to address a complex multitude of explanatory and exegetical issues and interpretations that you deny or reject in favour of pillorying Sosa's position, which is pretty much mainstream in Christ's Church today. I'm sorry. The explanation that 'the Devil made me do it' cuts no ice these days except among those fundamentalists desperately 'breathing life into a long dead horse'.


Michael Furtado | 17 December 2021  

‘pillorying Sosa's position, which is pretty much mainstream in Christ's Church today. I'm sorry. The explanation that 'the Devil made me do it' cuts no ice these days’


The mainstream position is there’s no Devil? So Jesus was hallucinating in the desert?


The mainstream position is that the Devil merely tempts and we have to accede and do the rest. The Devil doesn’t even lift a finger to help us with doing the rest (not even for the three temptations), which makes the sinner doubly stupid when caught out, caught out for doing something and caught out doing something in which the Devil won’t invest even a little skin ----- understandably so because one can only sin against God or another human and the Devil has no autonomous ability to do anything to God or to another human (Job being an example for humans).


‘The explanation that 'the Devil made me do it' cuts no ice these days’


How is it that extensive reading leads one to a straw man?


roy chen yee | 19 December 2021  

You raise a valid point about temptation and the existence of vice in the world, Roy. However you depict it in terms of a logical modality that leads you up a cul-de-sac.

Jesus was indeed tempted in the desert. At the lowest point in His Life He was offered a way out: something much, much more cunning, subtle and undermining than the simple wrestle your literal reading permits.

Without 'free will', no adult will - nor, for that matter, can - exercise choice. And without choice, all we're left with is determinism!

That said, what saves us, apart from 'free-will', is the existence of virtue in the world: virtue 'for its own sake', and NOT in expectation of a reward. In that sense, your Devil, unlike Sosa's, but much like Marx's, 'forces people to be free'!

While its tempting to simplify it all through reference to the Devil, the multiple 'too-easy' suppositions you make en route are the ones that let people off the hook.

Your Devil's no more than a tool for scaring kids into obedience. That doesn't work for adults who discard the problem of evil as just another meaningless hiccup on the confusing existential complexity of life.


Michael Furtado | 29 December 2021  

‘….your Devil.’


And yours? What does it do?


‘the multiple 'too-easy' suppositions you make en route are the ones that let people off the hook.’


Such as?


roy chen yee | 02 January 2022  

If 'the devil made me do it' is a plausible explanation for lapsing from virtue towards vice, it offers a puerile solution to building integrity, honesty and an adult faith which, on the other hand, acknowledges our vulnerability, challenges our ego, induces humility, seeks God's mercy, confronts our arrogance, enhances our sense of personal and social responsibility, augments our reliance on the sacraments, induces a firm purpose of amendment and restores us to the path of righteousness.

Might we not be on the same path here, Roy? Is it just that you're a tougher player on this minefield with your focus on the (cannon)ball and not at all on helping fallen mates?

Waking at 5 am and doing 50 trunk curls before brekkie: is that what Jesus did or was he pointing to a deeper inner conflict? Granted your dedication, how do you know when you've lost your way? Isn't self-righteousness itself sometimes the guise and mark of 'The Beast'?

What horror movies do you watch? How can you be sure that their exegesis isn't drawn from Mel Gibson and their epic stand-offs between virtue and vice from the Mad Max storyline? Might your devil be drawn from Mary Shelley?


Michael Furtado | 18 January 2022  

‘If 'the devil made me do it' is a plausible explanation for lapsing from virtue towards vice, it offers a puerile solution to building integrity, honesty and an adult faith which, on the other hand, acknowledges our vulnerability, challenges our ego, induces humility, seeks God's mercy, confronts our arrogance, enhances our sense of personal and social responsibility, augments our reliance on the sacraments, induces a firm purpose of amendment and restores us to the path of righteousness.’

A whole paragraph which is, in the context, evasive, redundant and irrelevant because I’ve already said, ‘The mainstream position is that the Devil merely tempts and we have to accede and do the rest. The Devil doesn’t even lift a finger to help us.’

How about addressing what is actually said instead of taking a bus through the suburbs?

Incidentally, you can do all that you want in the paragraph from ‘building integrity’ to ‘restores us to the path of righteousness’ without, like Fr Sosa and yourself, disbelieving in the Devil as a person as is canonically prescribed.


roy chen yee | 21 January 2022  

The hierarchy in India are now completely indigenous, Michael. Some foreigners do run some missions. With the rise of Hindu consciousness, which translates to 'this is our country and we don't want any foreigners and their colonial religions' (despite the early, peaceful advent of Christianity in Kerala, possibly with St Thomas) these are unpopular, especially when they attempt to assist the scheduled castes, who, in the majority view 'should know their place'. There are reformist Hindu movements, such as the Lingayats; the Arya Samaj and Brahmao Samaj, which are not attacked violently, like Christians are. Some Protestant missionaries seem to have actually deliberately, or stupidly, courted martyrdom. Hinduism is a Great World Religion with about a billion adherents. It has a vast, deep, ancient culture with superb architecture, art, music and dance. In some Hindu communities, such as Kerala amongst the Nair community, women have always had a high and central role in leading the family. To call this 'paganism' is crass stupidity. When will Western Christians ever learn? The Indian Jesuits, including the late Tony De Mello, were, thank God, not like that. They were Indian and took out what was best of Hinduism - like quietness, oneness with nature and meditation - and used it. Of course they sometimes fell foul of ignorant xenophobes.


Edward Fido | 08 December 2021  
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Thanks, Edward, for bringing us up-to-date on Indian religiosity. Not only did some like Tony de Mello SJ fall foul of xenophobes, they also fell foul of the Vatican. The same thing happened with Tissa Balasuriya OMI in next door Sri Lanka. Tissa was excommunicated by Pope Benedict for raising his voice in support of liberation theology. In a region in which Christians are an insignificant minority of the population, +Benedict made a scapegoat of him. Modi makes a scapegoat of Muslims and Christians in the same way. The politics of scapegoating employed by the Pakistanis have done much to trigger such extreme behaviour in Hindu nationalists, known until recently for tolerance of minorities, and reflecting Catholic fundamentalist behaviour in regard to the Synod. These are precisely the same people who crucified Jesus and then made a God out of him! Andre Girard's Theory of Mimesis (or scapegoating) explains it all and those who know it will recognise just how much we do it in these columns without realising it, perhaps myself included. My point, to make sense of the rich information you provide, is that we battle it out, find a scapegoat, crucify them and then applaud them afterwards.


Michael Furtado | 08 December 2021  

Roy latches onto an opinion expressed about the Devil by the Jesuit Superior General, Fr Sosa, that will not satisfy him. This what Fr Sosa said:

Satan 'is the one who stands between God's plan and his work of salvation accomplished in Christ, because he has made this irreversible and free decision, and he wants to drag others to reject the merciful God, who prefers to give his life to save instead of to condemn,' ('Vida Nueva', Rome, 2/XII/2019)).

Sosa added that 'the power of the devil obviously still exists as a force that tries to ruin our efforts.' Sosa’s comments came amid remarks he offered on the six Jesuits and two employees killed in November 1989 by Salvadoran soldiers in San Salvador.

Read contextually, Sosa is saying that we are all complicit in the slaying of Christ, not just those who slaughtered St Oscar Romero. Thus, we are all, including those who shot Romero, always free to gain forgiveness attendant upon expressing a firm purpose of amendment for our sins.

Roy's 'pharisaic theology', separating the saved from the damned, offers no hope of Redemption. His construction of the devil, derived from Calvin/Jansen, forgets about Sorrow, Hope, Mercy and Forgiveness.


Michael Furtado | 24 January 2022  
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'This what Fr Sosa said'

After a lot of pushback.

Given that what he said to stimulate the pushback (easily found on the Internet) was clearly outside orthodoxy on a very simple topic (the existence as a person of the Devil) that the average Catholic could have been in no doubt about, the question can be asked, if we assume that he has changed his position now, is how he could have said such a thing at the time despite his multiple degrees in theology.

Still, he says he now believes in the personal existence of the Devil, which leaves you stranded like a barnacle on a rock given what you have said in support of his previous position.


roy chen yee | 28 January 2022  

The only barnacle-like irritant that I can see is something akin to a horsefly buzzing around a healthy but freshly evacuated heap of horse-manure, suitable for aging and, I am told, recommended by gardeners as a cheap, natural and eventually biodegradable fertiliser.

Readily available in many rural areas, like the Lockyer Valley, which is Brisbane's nearest vegetable-producing food-bowl or through reputable suppliers, horse-manure makes a suitable and inexpensive fertilizer.

From experience (of teaching in Toowoomba and the Scottish Borders) I know it can give new plants a jump-start while providing essential nutrients for continual growth.

It's also slightly higher in nutritional value than cow or steer-manure and decidedly less offensive to the olfactory senses than pig or chicken-manure, attracting fewer horse-flies of the kind that infested the stud-farms of Scone, which I regularly visited for my supply while teaching in Newcastle.

In cold climate Scotland where such 'beasties' were not known to exist, the horse-manure attracted swarms of midges in 'high summer' (lasting approximately a day or two) around Traquair House, approximately 7 miles southeast of Peebles, and which Roy will be glad to know is still in Catholic hands.

I eventually came to Australia and pleasurably encountered splendid Roy!


Michael Furtado | 24 February 2022  

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