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