Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bishop of Lancaster: ‘Educated Catholics have sown dissent and confusion in the Church’

Those pesky, intelligent, university-educated Catholics are to blame for the crisis in the Church and the growth of secularism, according to the Rt Rev Patrick O'Donoghue, the Catholic Bishop of Lancaster. They dare to exercise their cerebral faculties; they dare to question; they dare to hold an opinion which may be contrary to that of their priest, bishop or pope. Just who do they think they are to delve into the epistemological mysteries of Church teaching? And who do they think they are that they dare to hold a view on who ought to succeed Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor at Westminster?

The Rt Rev Patrick O'Donoghue is the bishop charged with addressing the crisis of the diminishing faithful and the closure of much loved parish churches. Attendance at Mass in 1991 was recorded as 1.3 million, representing a drop of 40 per cent since 1963, but it fell further to 960,000 in 2004. The number of priests in England and Wales has slumped by nearly a quarter in 20 years, from 4,545 in 1985 to 3,643 in 2005.

And the Bishop’s conclusion is that mass education is causing the decline in Mass attendance. He said: ‘graduates are spreading scepticism and sowing dissent. Instead of following the Church's teaching they are "hedonistic", "selfish" and "egocentric".’

And in particular, it is the ‘influential Catholics in politics and the media’ who are ‘undermining the Church’.

To whom is the Bishop referring?

Tony Blair? Mark Thompson? Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay? Edward Leigh? Ann Widdecombe? Luke Coppen? Clifford Longley? Catherine Pepinster?

He is, of course, careful not to name names, and Cranmer thinks it may be none of the above. He specifies those who have been ‘compromised by their education’ which he said had a ‘dark side, due to original sin’.

It is curious that the Bishop singles out mass education as being infected by original sin. There could, of course, be no such virus in the seminaries or among the holy élite who are charged with bringing the eternal truths of Vatican II to the ignorant masses.

Bishop O'Donoghue’s remedy for the renewal of the Roman Catholic Church in Britain appears to involve stamping out this mass education because it has led to ‘sickness in the Church and wider society’. He explains:

"What we have witnessed in Western societies since the end of the Second World War is the development of mass education on a scale unprecedented in human history - resulting in economic growth, scientific and technological advances, and the cultural and social enrichment of billions of people's lives. However, every human endeavor has a dark side, due to original sin and concupiscence. In the case of education, we can see its distortion through the widespread dissemination of radical scepticism, positivism, utilitarianism and relativism. Taken together, these intellectual trends have resulted in a fragmented society that marginalises God, with many people mistakenly thinking they can live happy and productive lives without him. It shouldn't surprise us that the shadows cast by the distortion of education, and corresponding societal changes, have also touched members of the Church. As Pope Benedict XVI puts it, even in the Church we find hedonism, selfishness and egocentric behavior."

It is the Catholic graduates in particular who are guilty of spreading lies and misinformation about the liturgy and doctrine of Vatican II because they have been ‘most exposed to the intellectual and moral spirit of the age’. And they are abusing their positions in politics and the media by ‘causing confusion and discord in the whole church’. Indeed, they have ‘corrupted the faith of those who have not gone to university’.

Bishop O'Donoghue’s reasoning can lead only to one conclusion. England must return to government by a priestly caste, to the days when the Bible was in Latin, not English; to the era when the Pope, his cardinals and bishops decided the content of canon law and the message came down to the laymen, and only when the Latin text was translated into the vernacular by the dutiful parish priest were the masses enlightened. Let those who are chosen by God do the leading. Let the uneducated remain uneducated, and let the poor remain poor. God forbid that lay Catholics should have access to a university education. Their radical scepticism, positivism, utilitarianism and relativism might even be corrupted by presumptuous manifestations of Protestantism.


Anonymous Preacher said...

Your Grace.
No wonder that certain sections of the 'christian' church are losing followers when ignorance and blind obedience is obligatory to faith. As an ex agnostic bordering on atheism I can honestly say that I have never had any problem with so called disparities between science and belief, or any other matters that require use of the old grey matter.
Surely it's this dogmatic authoritarian stance that is so repugnant to the intelligent 21st
century seeker.

16 November 2008 at 11:03  
Anonymous len said...

Christianity began in Palestine as a group of people who had a relationship with Christ.From there it traveled to Greece where it became a philosophy.Then it moved to Rome where it became an institution.After that it moved to Europe where it became a culture.Lastly it moved to the United States where it became a business.
Time to go full circle and go back to a relationship with Christ, not Religion!!!

16 November 2008 at 11:31  
Anonymous len said...

If you want to know who the true God is study prophesy!
Jesus Christ fulfilled hundreds of prophesies only he could fulfill.
Look at other religions, study their teaching, more importantly study their prophesies.Their is only one true God and he knows the end from the beginning!

16 November 2008 at 11:37  
Anonymous Sam said...

It seems (from the telegraph article) fairly acceptable to me. Can you honestly deny that modern university education is somewhat corrosive of not only faith but the idea of truth itself. I specifically mean the arts of course. Science has been less infected with that, but science is too arrogant about its supremacy.

Honestly I appreciate that somebody said it.

16 November 2008 at 12:51  
Anonymous Sam said...
The whole thing.

16 November 2008 at 13:07  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

Your Grace

The crux of what the Bishop is saying is that Catholic men women and children are not being taught enough at school about the Church, its history, its theology, what the sacraments mean. Thus when they are faced with the tidal wave of hedonism and let everything go, the temptation is to go with the flow.

I imagine that Anglicans suffer the same problem, but Your Grace could advise on this.

Sam is right when he says that the arts subjects are more corrosive than the sciences. As a scientist I never had problems reconciling science and religion.

Bishop O'Donoghue talks about the lack of leadership. Point taken, though Catholics in areas where the committee rules on policy, such as the BBC, will have a hard time, even when they have positions of influence. In areas where individuality can be expressed, e.g. journalism, this seems to be less of a problem. Catholic journalists, for example Christopher Howse in the Telegraph put across a Christian philosphy in a manner digestible to those of other faiths.

But leadership is also lacking amongst the Bishops in England and Wales, with the notable exception of Bishop O'Donaghue, who as Your Grace will recall, was recently dragged before a Parliamentary Select Committee to explain his views on why Catholic schools needed to be more Catholic - and less secular.

Mr Barry Sheerman, the Labour MP for Huddersfield, and Chairman of the Committee said that faith education works all right as long as people were not that serious about their faith but as soon as there is a more doctrinaire attitude questions have to be asked.

Surely Your Grace is not on the side of Sheerman et al?

It is very very difficult for young people in particular to stand up to the pervasive mores of today, especially at University. Malcolm Bradbury's satire on University life 'The History Man' has echoes today. David Lodge in a Guardian review earlier this year, said that the book was a warning of what could happen when, in the words of W B Yeats "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."

16 November 2008 at 14:15  
Blogger McKenzie said...

Your Grace is beginning to display all the signs of blind pompous twatery.

16 November 2008 at 14:40  
Blogger McKenzie said...

It really is quite obvious that he is not suggesting that education is bad, and that we should live under a priestly totalitarian regime.
But my God you have demonstrated the exact point he was trying to make.
It is not just the lack of education about church and religion, it is the absolute lack of any ethical teaching which is sinking us into the abyss.
Of course you can have your highly educated opinion, but don't forget the Creator, remember him? Or is God just some intellectual concept for you to flex your intellectual muscles?
All is not well, not well at all, and if you have a Christian bone in your head, you need to start spreading the Good News.

16 November 2008 at 15:20  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr McKenzie,

Ad hominem gets us nowhere.

Mr Ultramontane Grumpy Old Catholic,

His Grace has posted on the Select Committee to which you refer, and found himself somewhat antithetical to the odious views of Mr Sheerman.

16 November 2008 at 15:21  
Blogger McKenzie said...

I am saying that on this one, you are a classic example of too much education. Ad hominem my arse, its no different to what you are saying.

16 November 2008 at 15:56  
Blogger Damo Mackerel said...

Archbishop Cramner. I think you've missed the point that the Bishop of Lancaster was trying to make. Look at the Anglican church. It is on its last legs. Why? Because since the 1960's, the progressive, modernisers and 'well-educated' people who knew better tore it asunder. They got rid of the traditonal literature and replaced them with dumbed down texts- the Book of Common Prayer, 1662 version for instance. The mass is a parody of it former self, what with all the gadgets and props and the jogging for Jesus music. That's why people have left in their droves. now the Catholic church is coming under attack by these same know it all modernisers. They seek to destroy the Catholic Church from within like they've done with the Anglican Church. We will not let them. We will fight back.

16 November 2008 at 16:21  
Blogger Damo Mackerel said...

By the way are you Nicholas Lash?

16 November 2008 at 16:35  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

Your Grace

I was teasing you just now on the Select Committee issue, and I recall your post with approval.

16 November 2008 at 16:39  
Blogger McKenzie said...

I am not so Naïve as to be unaware of the 'odious' miles of chasm which probably separate us Your Grace, but I fear that our faith is in peril unless we begin some kind of concerted effort to save it.
I also fear that you are seeing things through rose-tinted glasses and do not grasp the full extent of the threat. I do not have any such glasses, but can see that His Grace wears His with much dignity and eloquence.
It was probably ill thought out of The Rt Rev Patrick O'Donoghue, the Bishop of Lancaster, to make such claims out loud during times as these, but his intended meaning is being quite distorted.
I do not have any theological education, I am a simple and humble Christian, but I can well appreciate the need for such education. However, while we fight amongst ourselves over in-house trivialities, our country is sinking into an abyss of amorality and filth. Now, while I am aware of my own short comings with regards to displaying any 'class', I do rather hope to be able to rely on our exceedingly well educated Christian citizens to be able to take up the fight in the academic gladiatorial arena on my behalf. But it is becoming apparent that too much education can create a certain BPT condition which diverts the crucial energies away from the real issues at hand.
Our children are receiving no ethical training which could help them distinguish from right and wrong (in general, not meaning to insult those who do teach their kids these things).
I would personally expect the intelligentsia to aware of what is happening, and putting certain differences aside, find it with in themselves to 'campaign' (evangelise) in order to put our nation back on the road to salvation: not to bicker about who is best placed to do so!

16 November 2008 at 16:50  
Anonymous len said...

The trouble with the church is that the simple relationship that believers had with Jesus Christ was hijacked by religion for the pursuit of power, riches, and the ambition of unscrupulous men.
How much of what the Catholic church teaches is unscriptural!.
The anglican church lacks strong leadership!.
This thing called religion has become out of control.It controls people,it tricks people into thinking that when they are serving it they are serving God.
I apologise for any spelling errors,(bit harsh that cranmer) put it down to my lack of education)Come to think of it the desciples were uneducated but Jesus still chose them.God chooses the weak and foolish things of the world to confound the wise!What could be more weak and foolish than a crucified man!!

16 November 2008 at 17:22  
Blogger The Gentleman Loser said...

Oh dear.

Let's hope the bishop was misquoted. I am sure I can hear the sound of Dawkins, Grayling and Hitchens (C)laughing but perhaps it's Aquinas spinning in his grave. I don't suppose he has any evidence to back up his claims, has he? Presumably he wishes me to take his word for it. What is it with British Catholics? Think of the most prominent of the last 150 years or so. Copleston, Waugh, Greene, Knox, Newman, Chesterton, Hume. Only one of them was a cradle Catholic. I wonder why. Any thoughts?
In recent years I have spoken to a number of former Anglican clergymen who became Catholic priests. One thing that a number of them have told me is that they do not do as much preparation for their sermons as they once did as they are less likely to be asked questions on sermons by their parishioners - in Catholic circles quality of sermon seems to be synonymous with brevity.
Since the 1960's there has been an assumption that all forms of authority are illegitimate. I see no reason why the Magisterium should have escaped this trend and frankly the behaviour of a small number of our clergy even at episcopal level has not done much to enhance trust in their authority.

16 November 2008 at 17:40  
Blogger McKenzie said...

Oh Dear,

The truth really does seem to sting!

I can hear Jesus laughing, and Satan rolling around in hysterics.

16 November 2008 at 19:23  
Blogger McKenzie said...

By the way,

making pompous and condescending comments will not automatically include you in the category of over educated.

16 November 2008 at 19:31  
Blogger Cato, author of said...

Ah, if only England were indeed to return to government by a priestly caste, to the days when the Bible was in Latin, not English, etc. etc. - how much happier England would be!

Alas, it is the Bishop of Lancaster and his liberal, modernist colleagues in the episcopate who have been guilty of espousing and promoting the corrupt spirit of the modern age. It is his Lordship who has been so keen to close viable congregations for the sole reason that they just happen to be attached to the Forma Extraordinaria of the Mass (otherwise the Old Rite). These are the very congregations where he would find those ready to fight against the twisted spirit of modernism, but alas he chooses to attack the faithful sons and daughters of the Church in such places and to seek instead the 'strange Gods' beloved by the promoters of Vatican II, the very persons who have have eaten away at the soul of the Catholick Church.

If His Lordship seeks the enemies of the Eternal Church, let him first seek them in his own back yard.

16 November 2008 at 20:05  
Blogger JM said...


Please, please read Bishop O'Donoghue's interview in context. What you will read there is the truth bravely spoken. I am sure you will see that. And if your conscience does not sting you for slandering the bishop and leading people astray, from obscuring truth and doing a disservice to Jesus Christ...then I will be sad indeed.

You wonderfully talented man!

16 November 2008 at 20:32  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr JM,

Context is a marvellously wonderful and an inspirationally enlightening thing.

Could you please enlighten His Grace as to precisely where he has 'slandered' the Bishop?

Indeed, could you please enlighten His Grace as to precisely where he has disagreed with the Bishop?

16 November 2008 at 20:49  
Blogger the doctor said...

Len said , I am afraid that Christianity did not start in Palestine , the first Christian out reach was in 35AD and the first chapel to be built above ground in 64AD was in England . Following an intensive 12 year research study into the Church from the first to the sixth century , one must re-evaluate received wisdom .

16 November 2008 at 20:58  
Anonymous len said...

Jesus`s followers were the first christians!
They were based in palestine!
Unless you have re-written the bible!

16 November 2008 at 21:12  
Anonymous len said...

A christian is a follower of Jesus Christ!.
All this denomination thing is merely adding confusion to the basic principles!.
Christianity is not a steeple building!.
Christianity is not saying prayers in a certain fashion!.
Christianity is not a list of certain rituals you must perform , if this is all you have you have missed christianity altogether and have merely a dead religion!.A christian is someone who has made JESUS CHRIST lord of his life, and been born again.

16 November 2008 at 21:20  
Anonymous len said...

A christian is a follower of Jesus Christ!.
All this denomination thing is merely adding confusion to the basic principles!.
Christianity is not a steeple building!.
Christianity is not saying prayers in a certain fashion!.
Christianity is not a list of certain rituals you must perform , if this is all you have you have missed christianity altogether and have merely a dead religion!.A christian is someone who has made JESUS CHRIST lord of his life, and been born again.

16 November 2008 at 21:21  
Anonymous len said...

Sorry for repeating myself, must have double clicked!.

16 November 2008 at 21:23  
Blogger the doctor said...

If you accept that the Nazarene Church was " Christian " then what I said was correct . No I did not re-write the New Testament , but the selection of what was deemed canonical was down to the Church in Rome . Additionally the content was heavily edited to reflect a theo-political agenda .
If Christians were followers of Jesus Christ then the church would not look as it does today , bloated
and corrupt and full of none thinking sheep .

16 November 2008 at 21:31  
Anonymous len said...

the doctor, I am in total agreement with you!.

16 November 2008 at 21:43  
Anonymous MysoniscalledHarry said...

Perhaps if the Catholic Church was not so preoccupied by sin, rather than love of ones neighbour etc it might have an effect. We know we are all poor sinners but we want to be uplifted not reminded about how unworthy we are. If we build communities of love we will at least do what Christ commanded us ...

My local church is busy building a community of love and its roll is growing - helps it has a fantastic school attached.... ( and choir during the services...)

16 November 2008 at 22:22  
Blogger The Gentleman Loser said...

Every time we say, 'Lord I am not worthy...' we add 'but only say the word and I shall be healed'

I'm inclined to think there's rather more to worship than wanting to be uplifted.

Followed your link and not especially impressed by the bishop's analysis. It wasn't lay graduates that ripped out the high altars and threw them on the skips. It wasn't influential media types that ordered the de facto abolition of the Latin Mass in this country, nor was it David Lodge and Hugo Young who recently scrapped Corpus Christi, the Feast of the Ascension and the Epiphany as separate holy days. Step forward Bishop O'Donoghue's brother bishops...

16 November 2008 at 23:18  
Blogger Wrinkled Weasel said...

Yep, I have read the piece at source and what His Grace says is about as in-context as a particularly contextual thing at a "keeping your eggs in one basket" competition.

The Bishop says that if you are a Catholic and have a university education you are probably going to be a bit naughty and not believe what you are told.

I found this to be the case when I worked at the Catholic Herald; if you asked other writers about Transubstantiation and Papal Infallibility, they sniggered like schoolboys.

Anyhow, your reading for today is The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse, set in

"Castalia (which) is a symbolic realm where all spiritual values are kept alive and present, specifically through the practices of the Glass Bead Game. It depicts a future society in which the realm of culture is set apart to pursue its goals in splendid isolation..." May 1969 - Theodore Ziolkowski

Perhaps the Bishop would be happy taking to the cloistered life.

17 November 2008 at 00:45  
Anonymous no nonny said...

Your Grace’s post strikes me as knotwork! May I consider three main strands?

Len and others have spoken for RELIGION - I also see its 'pseudo' version: religiosity.

Hasn’t EDUCATION accompanied Christianity except when ‘secularity’ subverted the process? So, often e.g: Marxist indoctrinators require students to seek approval:learners “memorize,” and “accept Theory as Law”; and then “regurgitate” via a thesis that upholds Marxism and New Historicism (not History or Christianity-because ‘they’re lies for the simple-minded’). Results: Triumph of Anything over Substance; fear of failure and poverty; low cunning; low style; spin; pseudo-erudition.

So shouldn't we support those who teach “To Seek the Truth”*? Method: Students “read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest” while researching diligently; and then they respond by careful argument of their very own theses. Isn’t that how science (knowledge) and understanding, progress?

Actually, that was *“Quarere Verum” - but English VERNACULAR runs parallel with CHRISTIANITY and EDUCATION! Your Grace came latterly; Wyclif preceded you; [***]; King Alfred promoted education in ‘the language we can all understand,’ and his translations included the Psalms; and what is earlier or more closely entwined than the Anglo-Saxon gloss to the Lindisfarne Gospels?
[***Billie Conk and Pope Nicholas hacked us up] - English survived. Don’t present forces of 'pseudos' also combine against the triple cord of our culture? Without naming names... :)

17 November 2008 at 04:40  
Anonymous no nonny said...

The Doctor @20:58 "the first Christian out reach was in 35AD and the first chapel to be built above ground in 64AD was in England ."

I'm not sure what the term 'out reach' means in terms of 35AD - but would like to understand.

More, though: could you be good enough to post the location +/or refs re the chapel? I've been wondering about Christianity in Roman Britain, and so would appreciate that.

Still must admit I agree with Len that Christianity is about Christ in Palestine! I think it's one thing to recognize feet of clay on the messengers; but another to trash the message!

17 November 2008 at 05:11  
Anonymous len said...

I think (reading some of these comments) that religion acts like a set of blinkers, blinding one to the realities of Christ.
Everyone one tends to defend their denomination, defend their opinions, myself included.I pray that the Holy Spirit will open the eyes of us all to the Truth that is in Christ Jesus.

17 November 2008 at 08:18  
Blogger McKenzie said...

Keep it up, please, this is the stuff, a display of passion.

17 November 2008 at 09:50  
Blogger Dave said...

Methinks the Bishops is talking bollocks. His views come from an age when "don't do as I do, do as I say" reigned.

So I gues he's right up to date then.

Seriously, The Church of Rome is all about control. No more no less. They do not like its adherents to read the bible for themselves. They have a misplaced and totally bogus ideology that mistakenly insists that only the Pope can understand what the Bible means etc etc.

Millions died for the right to read the Bible for themselves in their own language.

The along comes this twit who is trying to impose the Pope's will again. Doh!

The great this about the Christian religion which is sadly missing in Islam is that it allows dissent, it allows free thought, etc etc.

Isn't it a cornerstone of the three great religions that man was given free will and chose to sin?

Even God understood that, and gave us a way back from the consequences of that.

So why all the control-freakery?

17 November 2008 at 10:48  
Anonymous MysoniscalledHarry said...

Gentleman Loser 23.18, I think you miss my point. My glass is half full, ( I hesitate to presume but is yours half empty?). Christ and I both know and accept my faults and sins, but I strive daily to be a better person and accept Christ's help in that journey. My fellow congregationists, I am sure, have the same daily battle. What puts me off Rome is that the constant reminder that I am a poor sinner is no road map to redemption. Good works is not a roadmap to redemption ( all we need is belief ) but good works shows our belief in action, and shows fellow sinners the way of Christ.

So back to increasing the attendance at church. Have a charismatic priest who preachs the good news including Sunday school, creche during services, small age worship etc, encourage the Christian community to come together and support one another ( parent and toddler groups, bible study, community dinners, music in the liturgy festivals), involve the community of the church with difficult but achieveable goals (winter homeless shelters, overseas fund raising, etc ).

17 November 2008 at 13:18  
Blogger The Gentleman Loser said...

The publican does not get vindicated by Jesus for a more optimistic approach to life...

It seems we Papists are either accused of having too great a sense of our sinfulness or of cheap grace through good works. Chesterton would have enjoyed that paradox.

17 November 2008 at 18:39  
Anonymous len said...

The religious system were the main source of opposition to Jesus Christ!
As it was then, so it is today!
Who do you hold allegiance to?

17 November 2008 at 19:23  
Blogger The Gentleman Loser said...

the aboriginal vicar of Christ

17 November 2008 at 20:37  
Blogger the doctor said...

No nonny said , Sorry if this comes over as a lecture , it is not intended . There are hundreds of references to the early Church in Briton , these are a very few .
Gildas 111 Badoicus (b.516)in " De Excidio Britanniae " Christian Britons were traceable back to " the latter part of the reign of Tiberius Caesar who died in AD37 " .
Cardinal Cesare Baronius in " Annales Ecclesiastistice " said that according to documents in the Vatican collection " Briton had embraced Christianity as early as AD35 . Furthermore Joseph of Arimathea , Philip , Martha ,Mary Magdalene and Lazarus sailed to Marseilles and Joseph and a large company had progressed their voyage to Britain ".
Finally , Polidoro Virgilio was sent to England , in 1502 , by Pope Alexander V1 . He wrote in " Anglicae Historicae " , referring to the reign of Emperor Nero ( AD54-68 )
" Arviragus was the principal chief in Britain during the principate of Nero ...At this time Joseph of Arimathea ..came into Britain with no small company of followers , where both he and his companions earnestly preached the gospel and the teaching of Christ . By this many men were converted to true piety , filled with this wholesome fruit , and were baptised . Those men were assuredly full of the Holy Spirit .
They received as a King's gift a small plot of land about four miles from the town of Wells , where they laid the first foundations of the new religion ..
The name of the place is Glastonbury. These first beginnings of Christian piety existed in Britain . "
So it is shown that Christianity was established in Britain 27 years before Peter reached Rome . It would appear that the Church in Britain has a prior claim to Rome in relation to Apostolic Succession .

17 November 2008 at 21:05  
Anonymous len said...

the gentle loser,
You lost me!.
Or perhaps you are lost?.

17 November 2008 at 21:20  
Blogger The Gentleman Loser said...

My conscience, dear Len.

17 November 2008 at 21:44  
Anonymous len said...


17 November 2008 at 21:59  
Anonymous no nonny said...

Ah, The Doctor - that's it! I knew of Gildas, but the others are worth checking out too. Many thanks!!

17 November 2008 at 23:21  
Blogger Berenike said...

"I become more and more persuaded by Anthony Archer’s thesis in The Two Churches that the reception of Vatican II in the 1960s and 1970s was hijacked by a middle-class agenda, to the destruction of a symbolic and expressive working-class Catholic life in these islands."

John McDade, SJ: ‘The Heart of the Sacred Body’, Priests and People (June 2000), pp.223-8.

Found here, whole article here.

20 November 2008 at 21:43  

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