Sunday, August 11, 2013

WTFWJD? Well, he’d neither swear nor ordain women


From Mr Alexander Boot:

The Rev Alice Goodman drives around Cambridgeshire with this acronym on her car sticker.


In case you’re wondering, the initials represent a popular Christian slogan ‘What would Jesus do?’

In this instance the slogan is spiced up with an intensifier that features prominently in the speech of the few English footballers still remaining in the Premier League.

The concept of using one’s car as a message board is peculiarly American, which is what the Rev Goodman is, though it’s catching on here, along with Coke, baseball caps and verbs made out of nouns. Even in America this custom is socially and culturally suspect, unless of course the message is witty.

For example, an American reader of mine has a bumper sticker saying, “Don’t blame me, I voted Chalcedonian.” I can live with that.

On the less theological end of the spectrum I quite liked the sticker made popular during Watergate, just after Richard Nixon had fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. The message said “Impeach the Cox sacker”, but then I don’t expect the refined readers of this blog to understand the double entendre.

In response to a stream of complaints, the Rev Goodman made a fine stylistic point, explaining that the intensifier in question “is not a blasphemy, it’s a vulgarity, an Old English word.”

That’s God’s own truth. However, the question isn’t the precise linguistic classification of the obscenity qua obscenity. It’s whether it belongs in the same sentence with ‘Jesus’.

Since the Rev Goodman insists on precise lexicographic definitions, the problem here isn’t denotation but connotation.

I’d suggest that in this context not even an atheist with a modicum of taste, never mind a believer, and especially a clergyman, would ever use this “vulgarity”.

I hope the Rev Goodman won’t take offence at the word ‘clergyman’. Should it be ‘clergyperson’? Possibly. What the neologism loses in phonetic sonority it gains in political correctness, though perhaps we should stop short of replacing ‘parson’ with ‘parchild’ or, in the Rev Goodman’s native idiom, ‘parkid’.

Perhaps she doesn’t realise this, but the principal threat to Christianity these days isn’t aggressive atheism from without. It’s vulgarisation and irreverence from within.

The Irrev Goodman therefore constitutes a factor of danger greater than strident atheists in the Dawkins mould. But if she insists on an answer to her offensive question, one possibility would be “Well, He certainly wouldn’t accept female priests.”

Why suddenly, after 2,000 years of Christianity, has this idea popped up at all? Jesus Christ, after all, didn’t ordain women, even though He clearly venerated them.

A woman carried Him in her womb, three Marys witnessed His crucifixion, two of them saw His burial, and it was to one of them that He first presented Himself after His resurrection. And yet, because He Himself was a man, not a woman, Jesus wanted His priests to be not women but men.

This tradition matters. For a priest is only an ontological entity when he is outside his church. When he performs his liturgical duties, he is truly “neither male nor female”.

At the altar a priest isn’t a person – he is a medium through which Jesus Christ makes his presence known; he’s but a synapse carrying the living memory of God, a transmitter of Church tradition.

Because Jesus was a man, theologically this function can be performed only by a man. Otherwise parishioners with dirty minds may misunderstand the statement “this is my body…”

In any case, the issue of women’s ordination, consecration as bishops or indeed any other matter of theological import should only ever be discussed in the context of Christian anthropology as laid down by the Scripture and Church tradition – not that of human rights, ‘sexism’, equality and other harebrained modern shibboleths.

These are at best meaningless even in their natural, secular habitat. In any ecclesiastical environment they are simply alien and unintelligible.

The Church is there to be the Bride of Christ, not to respond to transient fads. One such fad is the ‘liberation’ of women from their supposed erstwhile bondage.

The Church, now rapidly becoming a parallel structure in the conglomerate of social services, feels called upon to mimic this secular trend. Never mind that 2,000 years of Christian theology are thereby cast adrift – the Church has to move with the times. If modern times impose new pieties, the modern Church will respond with new theologies.

This doesn’t mean that the Church must remain ossified – only that it should remember at times that Christ’s kingdom “is not of this world”.

This isn’t the only possible answer to the question the Irrev Goodman displays on her car. But the likes of her make it the first one that springs to mind.

Alexander Boot is a writer on political, cultural and religious themes

128 Comments:

Blogger Richard Watterson said...

bring back Cranmer.

11 August 2013 at 08:30  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Article: "I’d suggest that in this context not even an atheist with a modicum of taste, never mind a believer, and especially a clergyman, would ever use this “vulgarity”."

*whistles innocently*

11 August 2013 at 08:41  
Blogger David Hussell said...

I am not against humour and God Himself does, I believe, have a sense of fun, otherwise where does ours come from? But this is a tasteless vulgarity that invites mockery of The Saviour, and as such it is cheap, in the extreme. Her actions are at best naive and do nothing to build the body of Christ. She is clearly very insensitive indeed towards the culture of this country.

Is she from The Episcopalian Church, now steaming full speed towards multiple heresy?

11 August 2013 at 08:49  
Blogger clive holland said...

You have fallen into the modern error of referring to a member of the clergy as "Reverend" .... Rev, whatever is an adjective. You don't talk about "Holy" Smith, you should say the Holy Mr Smith, or whatever.Presumably in this case the Rev. Ms....

11 August 2013 at 09:26  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Sounds like what Lenny Bruce might have said.

11 August 2013 at 09:31  
Blogger The Explorer said...

The question 'What would Jesus do?' seesm to me to presuppose a certain view: someone, now deceased, who lived a long time ago, but whose example we still try to follow.

Otherwise, the answer is very simple: ask him.

11 August 2013 at 09:47  
Blogger William Lewis said...

The Explorer

Quite.

The real question to ask is "What is Jesus doing?"

11 August 2013 at 09:54  
Blogger Brother Ivo said...

Brother Dreadnaught

Lennie Bruce did - in a routine in which the Sunday Service at St John the Divine New York was sent into utter chaos confusion and consternation by the return of Moses and Jesus who " walk in " at the back of the service, and upset the good order of what has been comfortably going on there for decades. It was a powerfully provocative piece from its time and one our Lord might approve.

In a similar way WTFWJD is at one level trivialising as Brother Alexander explores. We can however ask whether this is more " blasphemous" in a beliver's mouth than " My God why hast thou forsaken me" which has resonated through history since the days of the Psalmists to the modern day.

11 August 2013 at 09:57  
Blogger Nick said...

"Perhaps she doesn’t realise this, but the principal threat to Christianity these days isn’t aggressive atheism from without. It’s vulgarisation and irreverence from within."

If, by that, you mean the pollution of the Church with secular ideas, failure to follow Gospel teachings, failure to speak up for Christ and Christians in public, and a failure to lead by example, then I would agree.

If it means the use of vulgar or inappropriate language, which is thankfully rare, then I don't agree your statement.

We shouldn't underestimate the allure of atheism. It is a world view that, by being man-centric, gives people a false sense of being in control of their destiny. It is propogated now through every channel in our daily lives from the school classroom to the media. It's hard to get awway from, and it is very much the responsibility of the Church to counter its teachings with those of Christ.

11 August 2013 at 10:17  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Explorer: "Otherwise, the answer is very simple: ask him."

That sounds all very well except that the answer is very often different when two seemimgly devout Christians ask the same question about the same situation.

The different answers are better explained by the notion of a personal conscience, a shared set of religious texts, and a different cultural upbringing.

11 August 2013 at 10:32  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

DanJ0

Not often you find yourself in agreement with a Pope?

"“Over the pope as expression of the binding claim of ecclesiastical authority, there stands one’s own conscience which must be obeyed before all else, even if necessary against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority. This emphasis on the individual, whose conscience confronts him with a supreme and ultimate tribunal, and one which in the last resort is beyond the claim of external social groups, even the official church, also establishes a principle in opposition to increasing totalitarianism”."

Joseph Ratzinger, 1967

(in: Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II)

Frankly, I think this lady wanted a reaction. She got the reaction in spades. Move along, nothing to see here :)

11 August 2013 at 10:40  
Blogger Martin said...

Actually Jesus appointed all His people priests. But then you won't find any guidance from the NT on appointing priests, nor on the design of altars. They simply no longer apply.

Our great high priest has officiated at that one offering on the altar. It is over, no more offerings, no more priestcraft, no more altar.

He also decreed that the order of Creation be continued into His Church. The male to be the leader and the woman the helper. The elder/overseer (not bishop, sorry) should be a man because that is the way the roles are set.

11 August 2013 at 10:43  
Blogger John Wrake said...

It seems to me that Americans have a different attitude to what used to be called 'bad language' from English people, so the car-owner's cultural background is relevant here.

Nevertheless, she shows a remarkable lack of sensitivity to the offence likely to be caused in the country where she is driving her car.

One other item in this post causes offence - to me at least. That is the reference to 'the altar', in the context of Christian worship. As a member of the Church of England, I have no truck with 'altars' or the repetition of 'sacrifices', since the 39 Articles are quite specific on the subject.

We suffer too much at present from the misuse of language - careless, blasphemous, deliberately misleading, attempt to impose unnatural changes of meaning.

Let us all take more care "for out of the mouth ....."

John Wrake.

11 August 2013 at 10:55  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Sister Tibs: "Not often you find yourself in agreement with a Pope?"

Not often with Ratzinger, for sure. However, I'm not sure we're covering the same thing as it looks to me like he's saying that ultimately we own our moral decisions and the consequences, and I agree. Well, if I go on a working assumption that free will exists anyway.

I've had numerous different descriptions of what it is like when god communicates, some say it's like talking to someone in the same room, others that one just knows the answer afterwards, and still others that answers come through their conscience.

11 August 2013 at 11:07  
Blogger The Explorer said...

DanJ0 @ !0:32

You're right, there are sometimes differences. (Not always).

My real point was about the nature of Chrsit: a nice guy in sandals who died a long time ago; or the One who rose from the dead, and with whom it is possible to be in contact.

As Paul said, if it's the first then Christianity is pointless.

William Lane's question, "What is Jesus doing?" nails it better than I did.

11 August 2013 at 11:14  
Blogger The Explorer said...

For 'Lane' read 'Lewis'

11 August 2013 at 11:15  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

...and a תיקון עולם (tikkun olam, i.e., "repair the world") sticker? WTF?

Her Grace might need to repair her car if she stops in one of your famous neighbourhoods for shawarma and kous-kous. Even in tame Toronto I wouldn't buzz around with a Hebrew sticker on my jalopy.

11 August 2013 at 11:16  
Blogger graham wood said...

WWJD? is a meaningless question if not set in an identifiable context.
It is a a modern corrupted version of A Kempis' 'The Imitation of Christ'. For a number of reasons it never worked, and never can.

The question is not so much WWJD in any given situation, for "we" are not Jesus, but rather what should we do in any given situation? - an entirely different question - more a variation of how long is a piece of string?

Of course Jesus (and the whole of the NT) gave us ethical principles for living life - but these cannot be reduced woodenly to a simplistic formulae WWJD?
Its best ignored.

11 August 2013 at 11:46  
Blogger Gnostic said...

WTFWJD? Well since he was apparently friends with ladies of loose morals and was probably familiar with ancient Hebrew sex trade vernacular, he would possibly have a chuckle if he saw the sticker. After all, he was a party guy (Wedding at Cana anyone?) before dogma transformed him into a humourless, eschatology icon.

To suggest that one word (letter), on the bumper of a US Rev's car is a threat or an insult to Christianity in this country is silly and petty. The religion should be bigger and better than that.

11 August 2013 at 11:58  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Bro Ivo

I'm warming to him!

11 August 2013 at 12:01  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

There is an interesting question behind this post. What is it that makes certain words vulgar? Why is 'shit' unacceptable but 'feces' acceptable? Why should we not say 'fuck' while 'screw' will often raise not so much as an eyebrow and 'intercourse' (used as a verb) will elicit a smile? Vulgarity is sometimes useful. It often demonstrates a low and mean level of education - a vulgarity being the only adjective available in the vocabulary for use. But what is the moral issue in the word choice? Or are we simply dealing in aesthetics?

The proper btw question is 'What would Jesus have you do?'

carl

11 August 2013 at 12:56  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

As an aside, you might think of bumper stickers as a proto-weblog. There are a few basic forms for bumper stickers in the US.

1. The pickup truck with 'Guns don't kill people. I kill people.'

2. The minivan with 'In case of rapture this car will be unoccupied.'

3. The Prius with 'You can't hug a child with nuclear arms.' And twelve other similar stickers. I kid you not. I have sped up to catch cars at stop lights just to read the cacophony of Left-wing stickers that litter the back of the car. They are often hysterical.

carl

11 August 2013 at 13:13  
Blogger Rasher Bacon said...

Ephesians 5:4 says "Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving."

And earlier in chapter 4, "let no corrupt talk come out of your mouth." Far less stuck to your car to add to the pollution coming out the back. Carbon monoxide for the soul of her fellow road users.

So, no place for vulgarity. Give her a chance to repent and if vulgarity is still defended, sack her. Not exactly rocket science.

11 August 2013 at 13:15  
Blogger Rasher Bacon said...

Oh no - silly me - we can't sack anyone....

11 August 2013 at 13:18  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Rasher

Serious question. Does 'Oh, intercourse the penguin!' qualify as corrupt, foolish, or filthy talk? If so, then why? If not, then why?

carl

11 August 2013 at 13:24  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Leave penquins out of it.

Protect wildlife !

11 August 2013 at 13:31  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

What would Jesus do ?

Well, he tell her to sin no more, and to remove the sticker. Then he’d rip the dog collar off her. Yes, he wouldn’t forget to do that...

11 August 2013 at 13:59  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

Women priests are as naff as that loutish acronym she's displaying on her car. They just don't hit the spot and never will. It might elicit a snigger from people but it won't get them to enquire.

For Christian car stickers I like “ Ask and it shall be given you, seek and ye shall find, knock and it will be opened unto you.”

11 August 2013 at 14:12  
Blogger Peter D said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11 August 2013 at 14:22  
Blogger David B said...

"I’d suggest that in this context not even an atheist with a modicum of taste, never mind a believer, and especially a clergyman, would ever use this “vulgarity”"

I don't think I have seen any atheists use that vulgarity, though I have seen "WGAFFWJWD"

David

11 August 2013 at 14:42  
Blogger Peter D said...

Carl

"'Oh, intercourse the penguin!'"

What on earth would be wrong with recommending we have social dealings with or communicate with penguins?

11 August 2013 at 14:57  
Blogger Rambling Steve Appleseed said...

What WILL Jesus do?

We have been told.

11 August 2013 at 15:33  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Mr Boot,
I agree that the sticker, once I had read the explanation, was an offensive public display. However, I find your description of how the 'Priest' allows the flow of Jesus to reach the congregation, almost equally offensive. My understanding of Jesus Christ is that we can come to him, one to one, without any intermediary.

11 August 2013 at 15:36  
Blogger Peter D said...

Sister Tiberia, @ 11 August 2013 10:40

You really should give a fuller account of the then Cardinal Ratzinger's exposition of the role of individual conscious and how it developed.

As I understand him, he saw individual conscience as significantly impaired by original sin. For him a true, fully developed and informed conscience would be in accord with God's will. Neither did he recommend individual conscience as free licence to operate individually as one chooses within the Church. He certainly wasn't a 'cafeteria catholic' who justified accepting and rejecting doctrine and teaching based on individual choice.

11 August 2013 at 15:54  
Blogger Darter Noster said...

This is, theologically and logically, the most half-arsed attempt to argue against women priests I have ever seen.

Why we seem to have swapped Cranmer's informed and nuanced take on matters for the like of Boot's ranting bar-stool drivel is a mystery to me.

11 August 2013 at 15:55  
Blogger Peter D said...

David B
"I don't think I have seen any atheists use that vulgarity, though I have seen "WGAFFWJWD""

"Who Gives A Flying F*ck What Jesus Would Do"

Yep, I guess an atheist would use this a car sticker.

11 August 2013 at 16:01  
Blogger Peter D said...

Darter

But - 'Who are you to Judge?'

11 August 2013 at 16:02  
Blogger Peter D said...

Darter

But - 'Who are you to Judge?'

11 August 2013 at 16:02  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

He's the last one I would ever call a cafeteria Catholic (and I don't like that title either since it's so often used online as a pejorative for any Catholic whose views one perceives to be different from ones own. But I digress.)

Ratzinger was writing that at a time when the Cold War was at its height, and in more than one Eastern Bloc country the Church was being pressurised by the State. His view was that if every ordained minister was silenced or pressurised into saying what the State wanted, that conscience would remain as the final arbiter of the actions of the individual. Of course it's not free licence (and when did I ever say it was?). But it allows for the possibility that pressures within or outside of the Church may result in behaviour of Church officials which goes directly against individual conscience, and in those cases conscience trumps all else.

Of course this then relies on people shouldering the individual responsibility of developing a well-informed conscience rather than simply parroting the "rule-book" and it's more effort than most people want to be put to. :)

11 August 2013 at 16:06  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

And I would agree that if this is supposed to be the argument against women priests, based on one sad individual, then Cardinal Bernard Law would be the perfect counter example for those against the ordination of men if a single bad example is how one wishes to judge the whole argument. :)

11 August 2013 at 16:08  
Blogger David Hussell said...

It's difficult to say much about this "article " isn't it ? One is either shocked, in which case you explain why, or one isn't shocked by it. That's about it really, or am I missing some deeper import ?
The fact that the cleric who did this is a female is largely irrelevant I feel. But the fact that she is an American, is much more relevant. Obviously what may be acceptable to more people in one country, is probably unacceptable in another country, here. So it's about a cultural difference, and differences in the use of language, and standards of civility in speech perhaps. Her actions certainly demonstrate clear cultural insensitivity.
Was the car with its offending bumper sticker imported or was the sticker imported and then applied? I believe that the make of car is sold on both sides of the pond.
Personally I find the article slightly lacking in debate worthy content, boring even, after the initial impact.

11 August 2013 at 16:11  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Sister Tibs: "Of course it's not free licence (and when did I ever say it was?)."

I have a well-developed conscience and I certainly don't have a free licence to act against it. That's rather the point of conscience, I'd have thought. Crikey, it even gives me significant hassle at times over stuff that happened years ago and has probably been forgotten by everyone but me.

11 August 2013 at 16:13  
Blogger Rasher Bacon said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11 August 2013 at 16:22  
Blogger Brian Gould said...

The fact that the cleric who did this is a female is largely irrelevant I feel. But the fact that she is an American, is much more relevant.

With all due respect, I disagree. Her nationality has nothing more to do with it than her sex has. It's because she's a cleric, that's all. If it were a male Methodist minister from Glamorgan or a male Anglican Army chaplain from Sandhurst or, for that matter, a Jesuit from Buenos Aires with an Italian surname, the juxtaposition of the F-word and the J-word in the same slogan would be no less eyebrow-raising.

11 August 2013 at 16:28  
Blogger Pétrus said...

@Sister Tiberia

A "cafeteria Catholic" is one whose opinions deviate from that of the Church. Not from an individual.

11 August 2013 at 16:37  
Blogger Darter Noster said...

Peter D.,

"But - 'Who are you to Judge?'"

When it comes to pre-guessing God's judgement on human souls, I refrain from being judgemental in the knowledge that I too am uner judgement.

When it comes to crap writing on a public blog with an open comment thread, I'll be as judgemental as anyone else.

11 August 2013 at 16:37  
Blogger Peter D said...

DanJ0
"I have a well-developed conscience and I certainly don't have a free licence to act against it. That's rather the point of conscience, I'd have thought."

No - that's precisely the point I made and was the conclusion I didn't want drawn.

For Ratzinger, a true, fully developed conscience would be in accord with God's will. A conscience has to be formed. On it's own its a damaged, imperfect compass to right and wrong.

Sister Tiberia
"parroting the "rule-book""

See, I'd I've thought a properly informed Catholic conscious would lead to a full understanding and acceptance of the "rule book". Yes?

Darter
Lighten up. It was a joke.

11 August 2013 at 17:00  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Interesting no one has associated the sticker with militant feminism.

Militant feminist, meet the church.

Church, meet militant feminism. What’s that ? You’ve already met, and you’re stuck with them now, but it’s your own fault.

Yes, that’s all too apparent...

11 August 2013 at 17:04  
Blogger gentlemind said...

Caption competition entry:

"Had he been born in Poland, how would Jesus have pronounced 'Watford'?"

11 August 2013 at 17:26  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Brian,

Quite, I agree.

The shock flows from the person with the sticker being , A cleric, not because it is Female cleric, which is what I said didn't I ?

Inspector General

What do you take as evidence that this female is a militant ? Perhaps she is, but how do we know that?

11 August 2013 at 17:28  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Peter D

Take a look at these.

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/faithbased/2009/01/the_crowded_catholic_cafeteria.html

- the writer noting that "cafeteria" Catholicism is not confined to so-called liberal Catholics.

http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=759351 - a discussion suggesting that it is time we reclaimed the "via media" from the Anglicans :)

To paraphrase Gerry Rafferty

"Rads to the left of me, Trads to the right, and here I am, stuck in the middle with you" :)

11 August 2013 at 17:31  
Blogger Brian Gould said...

David:

The shock flows from the person with the sticker being , A cleric, not because it is Female cleric, which is what I said didn't I ?

Yes, David, you did. But then you went on to add:

But the fact that she is an American, is much more relevant.

It’s only this second assertion that I’m disagreeing with, not the first, OK?

Rgds
Brian

11 August 2013 at 17:48  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dodo: "No - that's precisely the point I made and was the conclusion I didn't want drawn."

I don't give a feck.

11 August 2013 at 17:54  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Article: "Perhaps she doesn’t realise this, but the principal threat to Christianity these days isn’t aggressive atheism from without. It’s vulgarisation and irreverence from within. The Irrev Goodman therefore constitutes a factor of danger greater than strident atheists in the Dawkins mould."

I don't see any significant danger to Christianity at all but I'd have thought the main danger to Christian hegemony in the UK is general apathy rather than atheists.

11 August 2013 at 18:06  
Blogger Martin said...

All 'Catholics' have opinion that deviate from the opinion of the Church, though they may not from the opinions of their own church.

11 August 2013 at 18:10  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

David Hussell. Best to err on caution on this one. The lady possesses strong features, and more than a hint about her of getting her own way. But most telling of all is WTF. We have a feminist here until it’s proved she isn’t...

11 August 2013 at 18:19  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Brian,

Understood. We will have to agree to disagree on that second point then. Your point is undoubtedly a reasonable one though.

Inspector General,

You are obviously in a cautious mood on this one, which you are obviously free to do so if you wish.
Choice of defensive posture, Noted !

Sister Tiberia,

The "Via Media". I love the Gerry Rafferty, what would you call it?, combined misquotation perhaps ? Very clever stuff.

As I am at present doing some extra reading on Hooker, the author of the phrase, I believe?, perhaps a loan or lease of the phrase could be arranged for a sensible price, say measured in bundles of incense perhaps? Or perhaps a franchise arrangement may be better for us, as then we can benefit from economies of scale, after all we've been waiting a fair few centuries for anyone else to show interest, and now at last, it may catch on. Perhaps we can sell it to the real reformers as well, the Lutherans and Calvinists. What do you think? Interested in a deal? You get first refusal.
But I warn you, the trouble with being in the middle, perhaps my role (curse?) in life, is that one is attacked from both sides then. It's a tough path to be a pilgrim on !

11 August 2013 at 19:04  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

David Hussell. Too right that man. One might even reminisce a little and think of two schoolboys. “You ask her if she’s a feminist. I’m not !”

11 August 2013 at 19:10  
Blogger Peter D said...

Sister Tiberia
A via media between "Cafeteria Catholics" and "Blind Catholics"?

Do me a favour! Anyway, they're not categories I'd accept.

As offered earlier - a properly informed Catholic would lead to them having a full understanding and acceptance of the "rule book".

11 August 2013 at 19:20  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

They aren't categories I'd accept either - we're all Catholics. One big semi-happy dysfunctional family with more crazy relatives than the Addams Family (another misquote from somewhere or other) :)

11 August 2013 at 19:28  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

David H - I don't think I can claim originality on the phrase either since I'm sure I've seen it quoted somewhere else. I just borrowed it :) And yes, the middle road does indeed have the dangers you state!

11 August 2013 at 20:02  
Blogger Peter D said...

DanJ0
"I don't give a feck"

How terribly rude!

11 August 2013 at 20:16  
Blogger Richard Watterson said...

Darter Noster


"Why we seem to have swapped Cranmer's informed and nuanced take on matters for the like of Boot's ranting bar-stool drivel is a mystery to me."


Hence my comment at the top. Brother Ivo's not too bad, but Boot and Mullen? I prefer Cannon and Ball.

11 August 2013 at 20:21  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Sister Tiberia,

Via Media,

A bit of research (Hmm ! Wikipedia ) informs us that the phrase can be traced back to Ancient Greece. It's the moderation thing, I suppose. But as far as the modern period goes, and theology, Newman seems to get in on the act. So there ! Now someone can advance other esoteric explanations. Don't you just love theologians, a very wordy and windy bunch in my opinion, at least most of them. Thank goodness my early degrees were in more physical subjects.

11 August 2013 at 20:23  
Blogger Albert said...

No discussion of the Via Media in theology could be complete without George Herbert's poem The British Church. In this poem three "churches" are compared as women. The Catholic Church is over-dressed, the puritans under-dressed. Anglicanism holds "the mean...and none but she."

I joy, dear mother, when I view
Thy perfect lineaments, and hue
Both sweet and bright.
Beauty in thee takes up her place,
And dates her letters from thy face,
When she doth write.

A fine aspect in fit array,
Neither too mean nor yet too gay,
Shows who is best.
Outlandish looks may not compare,
For all they either painted are,
Or else undress'd.

She on the hills which wantonly
Allureth all, in hope to be
By her preferr'd,
Hath kiss'd so long her painted shrines,
That ev'n her face by kissing shines,
For her reward.

She in the valley is so shy
Of dressing, that her hair doth lie
About her ears;
While she avoids her neighbour's pride,
She wholly goes on th' other side,
And nothing wears.

But, dearest mother, what those miss,
The mean, thy praise and glory is
And long may be.
Blessed be God, whose love it was
To double-moat thee with his grace,
And none but thee.

11 August 2013 at 20:48  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

I say, more of Boot and Mullen !

11 August 2013 at 21:03  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

...and less of Richard Watterson, what !

11 August 2013 at 21:09  
Blogger David B said...

"Perhaps she doesn’t realise this, but the principal threat to Christianity these days isn’t aggressive atheism from without. It’s vulgarisation and irreverence from within."

Aggressive atheism is largely a myth, to my mind. Most atheists are pretty apathetic about religion, and some, rather stupidly to my mind, keep using the pages of the Grauniad, the Torygraph and the Fail to attack Dawkins as too strident, clearly having never read or considered what he has written properly, and/or having fallen for the lies spread about him in some circles.

For his atheism is not aggressive so much as defensive, regarding such important things as the teaching of science in school, and the aggressive proselytising of kiddies using taxpayers money to do so.

But even were his atheism, and, for example, my own, aggressive and not defensive, it seems to me that the principal threats to Christianity are threefold.

On the Catholic side of things there is the very obvious surrender of any moral authority, as a result of both the sex scandals and the cover ups, and the plainly silly stances on contraception, and the use of prophylactics to prevent the transmission of STDS, both of which, I suggest, outrage the moral standards of most sensible people, whether they believe in God or not.

On the aggressive Protestant side well they have had sex scandals of their own, particularly from pastors of mega-churches, but the main problem with them is that just about all reasonably educated people, whether from formal education or watching the David Attenboroughs of this world, are well aware - and I include most Catholics and CoE people - that the literal inerrancy of the Bible, especially with reference to the Creation and Flood accounts is just so much tosh.

And then there is the CoE which, I suggest it appears to most people, cannot make up its mind about anything. It too has its scandals, though less publicised I suppose than the Catholic and Fundie Protestant ones, but the impression it gives of not having a clear stance on sex related issues in particular is hardly calculated to make it attractive.

So it is not atheism, nor the sort of woman who uses rude bumper stickers perhaps (I guess) calculated to appeal to adolescents in the hope that it is seen as cool and trendy, who are leading the various churches into decline in the west.

It is much deeper than that.

Some of us of course see the decline of belief in the supernatural as a good thing, for many reasons.

David

11 August 2013 at 21:15  
Blogger Albert said...

David B,

On the Catholic side of things there is the very obvious surrender of any moral authority, as a result of both the sex scandals and the cover ups, and the plainly silly stances on contraception

There's rather a paradox here. Liberalisation of views on sexuality is what occasioned child abuse - and still does.

the use of prophylactics to prevent the transmission of STDS

Again, the evidence is that prophylactics are not, in the parts of the world where HIV is most rife, very effective - for the obvious reason that their use changes, for the worse, people's sexual behaviour. Moreover, Catholic teaching has nothing to say about the use of condoms outside marriage - except to observe that any kind of contraception increases immorality and thus the rise of STDS.

The irony of all this, is of course, that child abuse is much more rife outside the Catholic Church (especially now) than within it. The kinds of institutions that have covered up abuse are not in the main the churches (although they have done so, but in lesser numbers and for less cynical reason than is realised). The real abortion cover-up organisations are the abortionists - who don't even tell girls' parents that their children have been raped. It is the secular liberal world-view that challenged the taboo on sex with minors - as it challenged every other taboo. If people had stuck to the connection between sex and procreation none of this could have been entertained or winked at (as it clearly was in the BBC).

So it is absurd to challenge the authority of the Catholic Church on these grounds. The evidence itself counts in the other direction.

11 August 2013 at 21:33  
Blogger David B said...

Albert, do you not think there has been sexual abuse of the young, poor and vulnerable by the older, stronger, richer and less vulnerable before the pill came along?

You are espousing the Party Line on condom use, but lack of such use has been responsible for many infections.

My moral intuitions, such as they are, but I think in this instance they will be widely shared, is that for a supposedly celibate priest or monk to use his position to abuse is doubly abhorrent, as is people who are suppose to demonstrate moral values to cover up such wrongdoing.

You may quibble and cavil all you like, but do you not think that as far as the minds of much of the general population is concerned, that they will agree with me?

Especially married Catholics who see the sense in planning their families, and who believe that a planned family will make for a stronger and better family unit.

How are family sizes changing within countries where the RCC has traditionally been...well, almost theocratic? Even if sometimes it has to support very nasty dictators in order to maintain its influence, which again is being noticed by the public.

We have talked about abortion before, and no doubt will again, but in this particular context is it not something of a red herring?

David

11 August 2013 at 21:50  
Blogger Brian Gould said...

Albert

Liberalisation of views on sexuality is what occasioned child abuse - and still does.

I think this a bit of an oversimplification, Albert. Child abuse has always been around. What changed with the sexual revolution back in the sixties was that child abusers felt free to come out of the closet. For many people, both inside the Catholic Church and in society at large, suddenly it was no longer something to be ashamed of, to be kept hidden away as a guilty secret. I can’t be sure but I get the impression this has been changing in recent years, with a shift away from the couldn’t-care-less attitude. And the new Pope seems to be serious about putting an end to systematic cover-ups in the name of “clericalism”.

By the way, I notice you managed to get your snapshot featuring the Maigret-style Dunhill past the censorship. Congratulations!

11 August 2013 at 22:00  
Blogger Albert said...

Brian Gould,

think this a bit of an oversimplification, Albert. Child abuse has always been around.

Yes, but put my comment back in it's context (perhaps I wasn't clear). I was responding to a specific issue: the rise in child abuse in the Catholic Church. Try googling Fr Paul Shanley for starters. There is no doubt that child abuse has - alas been a general feature of human society. There is also no doubt, especially in the Catholic Church, that its rise was the result of of a culture in which Catholic sexual ethics were rejected. Shanley is an interesting example - not least because it was his case that escalated the public's perception of the problem in April 2002.

11 August 2013 at 22:12  
Blogger Albert said...

Brian Gould,

And the new Pope seems to be serious about putting an end to systematic cover-ups in the name of “clericalism”.

He is, and he will be building on work done by his predecessor.

11 August 2013 at 22:13  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...


David B, Aggressive atheism is largely a myth, to my mind. Most atheists are pretty apathetic about religion,

You really should get yourself over to Pink News. And being a lefty, you will of course side with the ‘oppressed’, even those that would have the age of consent scrapped.

As a humanist, you see no need for values. We just roll around in our own shit, as opposed to the animal kingdom who are, thankfully, not equipped with free thought, and who are successful, mankind ‘s ignorance to our wildlife's needs not withstanding...


11 August 2013 at 22:21  
Blogger David B said...

Inspector, if you really think that humanism implies seeing no need for values then you are more ignorant and indeed stupid than I thought.

Why would you imagine that one has to believe in a supernatural being to see a need for values?

David

11 August 2013 at 22:25  
Blogger Albert said...

David B,

do you not think there has been sexual abuse of the young, poor and vulnerable by the older, stronger, richer and less vulnerable before the pill came along?

Did I say that? No. I am just repeating what the evidence shows: massive rise in abuse going hand in hand with liberalisation of sexual mores.

My moral intuitions, such as they are, but I think in this instance they will be widely shared, is that for a supposedly celibate priest or monk to use his position to abuse is doubly abhorrent, as is people who are suppose to demonstrate moral values to cover up such wrongdoing.

What on earth makes you think I am going to disagree with that. My point is that where this happened, the Church was too liberal, too close to the secular view of sexuality, and not Catholic enough. You can insinuate what you like about what you think I might be saying, but I never seem to get any evidence that the point I am making is not true.

You may quibble and cavil

Please give examples of my quibbles and cavils.

but do you not think that as far as the minds of much of the general population is concerned, that they will agree with me?

I am sure they do. But are they evidence based? Most people have drunk deeply from the Freudian chalice. For them it is obvious that if someone is celibate and therefore (as they see it) repressed, they are going to turn into abusers. The fact that the evidence tells in the opposite direction is immaterial. People do not wish to face the evidence that their liberal attitudes to sexuality are what caused the problem in the Church and massively more so, in society as a whole. It's much easier to blame Catholicism than take responsibility and follow where the evidence leads.

Especially married Catholics who see the sense in planning their families, and who believe that a planned family will make for a stronger and better family unit.

Sorry, where does Catholicism say married Catholics should not plan their families. But as there seems to be doubt about this, here's Vatican II:

Parents should regard as their proper mission the task of transmitting human life and educating those to whom it has been transmitted. They should realize that they are thereby cooperators with the love of God the Creator, and are, so to speak, the interpreters of that love. Thus they will fulfil their task with human and Christian responsibility, and, with docile reverence toward God, will make decisions by common counsel and effort. Let them thoughtfully take into account both their own welfare and that of their children, those already born and those which the future may bring. For this accounting they need to reckon with both the material and the spiritual conditions of the times as well as of their state in life. Finally, they should consult the interests of the family group, of temporal society, and of the Church herself. The parents themselves and no one else should ultimately make this judgment in the sight of God...This council realizes that certain modern conditions often keep couples from arranging their married lives harmoniously, and that they find themselves in circumstances where at least temporarily the size of their families should not be increased.

You ask:

We have talked about abortion before, and no doubt will again, but in this particular context is it not something of a red herring?

You mentioned child abuse. Every year abortion clinics cover up over 3000 cases of child rape. This is astronomically higher than any other kind of conscious cover-up. But it's acceptable, because it's all in a good cause: maintaining liberal sexual mores.

11 August 2013 at 22:27  
Blogger Meg Underdown said...

Christ didn't appoint any priests. All believers are corporately a priesthood. The order of Bishops, Priests and deacons developed in the early church and included women at all levels including a woman bishop as late as the 7th century. The men in the church have suppressed this memory. God is calling women to the priesthood. The so-called tradition of the church should not suppress the Spirit on the matter of in Christ there is no male or female.

11 August 2013 at 22:35  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...


David B, this man would rather be considered as ignorant and stupid than to allow humanists to run society. And yes, if you do not possess a higher authority from which values flow, you have no standards. Standards become a proscribed idea. Because not all can achieve standards, so standards have to go. Rather obvious really, but way beyond you...



11 August 2013 at 22:47  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

I think to say that the "liberalism" of the Church caused the rise in sex abuse cases really doesn't get to the bottom of it. All the evidence seems to be that there were many factors involved (a good summary can be found here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debate_on_the_causes_of_clerical_child_abuse)

One thing that I will say about it is that the Church has paid a massive financial and moral price for the lack of involvement of the major expert group at its disposal - married lay people who were parents - and trying to handle the whole thing internally. Can you imagine that we would have ended up with anything like this mess if the manner of dealing with offenders was put in the hands of women with children themselves rather than celibate ordained men trying desperately to deal with something they really failed (in many cases) to understand?

11 August 2013 at 22:50  
Blogger Peter D said...

David B

"My moral intuitions, such as they are ......"

Indeed.

11 August 2013 at 22:51  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

One wonders who David B’s highest authority is. Himself, probably...

11 August 2013 at 23:07  
Blogger Albert said...

Sr T,

I think to say that the "liberalism" of the Church caused the rise in sex abuse cases really doesn't get to the bottom of it. All the evidence seems to be that there were many factors involved (a good summary can be found here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debate_on_the_causes_of_clerical_child_abuse)

May I suggest that rather than reading wikipedia, you read the second John Jay Report itself?

One thing that I will say about it is that the Church has paid a massive financial and moral price for the lack of involvement of the major expert group at its disposal - married lay people who were parents - and trying to handle the whole thing internally. Can you imagine that we would have ended up with anything like this mess if the manner of dealing with offenders was put in the hands of women with children themselves rather than celibate ordained men trying desperately to deal with something they really failed (in many cases) to understand?

Mmmm...if you want to look at the place where most abuse occurs, it's in the family, which is also the place where most cover-ups occur (even when you take the abortionists into account, I guess). One of things that John Jay shows is that the notion of cover-up is itself unclear. When you read that there were X abusing priests in diocese Y it's natural to assume that the bishop knew about them all and covered them up. In fact, it was unusual that he knew about the abuse while it was taking place - or for much longer afterwards, often enough only when the allegations surfaced in the media decades later.

When bishops did know, the problems were that no one knew how to deal with the situation. Therapists thought they did (wrongly), and bishops sometimes trusted them. Were those therapists all celibate? Did none of them have children? Were none of them mothers? Often the civil authorities would not help. There were problems of statutes of limitations, problems of courts not punishing offenders properly (we only got a sex offenders register in the UK in the 1990s, and even today only half of convicted abusers get prison sentences). Are all these people celibate?

I am not denying that there were serious mistakes, and some wicked cover-ups, but we need to keep to the evidence or we will not learn. The evidence is that everyone got this wrong, to try to pretend it was a problem of celibate bishops is way, way wide of the mark (and looks a little opportunistic as well). Trying to say "This is a problem of 'the others'" while avoiding the evidence that this is and was much more widespread is dangerous.

11 August 2013 at 23:23  
Blogger Albert said...

Meg,

The order of Bishops, Priests and deacons developed in the early church and included women at all levels including a woman bishop as late as the 7th century.

What is your evidence for this assertion?

God is calling women to the priesthood.

What is your evidence for this?

in Christ there is no male or female

But there are still men and women, as the original author of those words made clear.

11 August 2013 at 23:26  
Blogger Peter D said...

Sister Tiberia
Come off it!

Now you're jumping on the band-wagon that's using the child abuse scandal to further a particular agenda within the Church.

"... the Church has paid a massive financial and moral price for the lack of involvement of the major expert group at its disposal - married lay people who were parents - and trying to handle the whole thing internally."

The only way to handle suspicions and allegations of sexual abuse (and there is a difference) is to involve the child protection agencies to investigate and assess the evidence.

That's the lesson the Church - and other organisations - has had to learn.

"Can you imagine that we would have ended up with anything like this mess if the manner of dealing with offenders was put in the hands of women with children themselves rather than celibate ordained men trying desperately to deal with something they really failed (in many cases) to understand?"

I can imagine and it would be an unholy awful mess where the investigative process and the confidentiality of the children and adults concerned would be severely compromised.

Each parish now has a trained lay member to oversee the safety of children and vulnerable adults - male and female; married or unmarried; childless or not. Priests are obliged to involve the civil authorities when concerns rise and these agencies know how to conduct investigations and collect and analyse evidence.

It's not a gender issue or a celibate priesthood issue. It is about expertise, skill and judgement - and focussing squarely on the protection of children.

11 August 2013 at 23:32  
Blogger Rasher Bacon said...

Carl (1324)

Yes.

Assuming for the minute that bestiality is not the intention, but that a facet of sexual intercourse is the intercourse intended, you've created an image of a penguin which I don't really want. You've had to use 'intercourse' as a verb, which as Calvin says, weirds language, but be that as it may, this becomes something done to the penguin, which betrays the base sentiments behind the original word.

Alternative words may be no better, in which case we won't use them, rather than ratchet our way to greater corruption. All swearing is essentially parasitic anyway - it relies on shock for its value.

I thought you did rocket science? Surely this is easier?

11 August 2013 at 23:34  
Blogger David B said...

Inspector, who said -

" And yes, if you do not possess a higher authority from which values flow, you have no standards"

One point is that if you take your authority from a putative higher authority, then you have no moral standards, your moral standards are those of the authority.

But then again, if one has no morality of one's own, and needs a higher authority in order to not go around on a killing and raping spree, then the question arises concerning which moral authority.

Yahweh? Allah? Zeus?

And questions follow even once one has decided on which putative higher authority to follow.

Are those who follow false moral authorities without morals?

What interpretation of the texts concerning the putative higher moral authority should one adopt?

Are people who follow the wrong interpretation without morals?

Let us bear in mind that the texts of all the middle eastern religions contain atrocities allegedly commanded by their individual higher powers - or are they the same higher power?

Basically, in deciding what is right or wrong the believer in a higher power is in no better position to decide on what is moral or not than the non-believer, since there are the problems I mention above.

But in any case, to say that I have no standards because I deny a higher authority is a gross slander.

My standards are such that I hold such slander to be bad, and, given that, it is clear that I do have standards.

Just not the standards of books that endorse genocide and slavery, among other things.

David





11 August 2013 at 23:53  
Blogger Peter D said...

David B
Questions, questions, questions. How it must confuse you not knowing the answers.

12 August 2013 at 00:07  
Blogger Mark Henderson said...

@ William Lewis

I suspect Jesus is praying for the Reverend Goodman, among others. That is what He does, having ascended tot he right hand of God the Father: He intercedes for the world.

12 August 2013 at 03:28  
Blogger William Lewis said...

Mark Henderson

Yet His spirit is still with us, moving.

"For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

And

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them inb the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

12 August 2013 at 03:54  
Blogger David Anderson said...

"At the altar a priest isn’t a person – he is a medium through which Jesus Christ makes his presence known."

Here, Mr. Boot articulates a theological idea which the New Testament is at pains to reject.

The New Testament attributes priesthood exclusively to Jesus Christ as Mediator, and to the entire body of the church as God's servants who come near to him. The idea of a specific sacerdotal ministry of fallible men under the New Covenant is not present under the New Testmanent, and explicitly and repeatedly rebutted in the book of Hebrews. Hebrews makes it clear why it is essential for us to take that stance: to do otherwise is to fatally obscure the perfection of Christ.

12 August 2013 at 07:47  
Blogger David B said...

Peter D who said -

"Questions, questions, questions. How it must confuse you not knowing the answers."

There is a lot of room for discussion about the meaning of the word 'know', which sometimes means different things in different contexts.

Part of growing up, though, is finding out what one can reasonably be said to know - like the facts that we live in a non geocentric solar system that is approximately 5 billion years old on which life has been evolving for rather less time.

Another part of growing up is learning to live with uncertainly about what we - as individuals, or as societies - cannot reasonably be said to know.

How confusing to you is not knowing the mind of what you suppose to be God?

Or do you claim to know the mind of God?

David

12 August 2013 at 08:08  
Blogger Albert said...

David B,

I find your posts quite confusing. Firstly, you seem to assume that we are beholden to divine command theory. We are not. Certainly, some theists are voluntarists. They seem to have infected modern secularists with this idea. Traditionally theists believed God is the highest and perfect good and the first truth. Thus any suggestion that his commands are arbitrary is entirely false.

But in any case, to say that I have no standards because I deny a higher authority is a gross slander.

Yes it would be, as you have framed it. But the issue is not about some vague higher authority, but about whether there is highest good. If you don't have a highest good, then all that is left is your opinion, which is not really judging anything of any content or truth - it's just your will. Now to accuse you of that is not slander. It's what you are (falsely) accusing us of when you think we are divine command theorists, and it is (rightly) what you proclaim yourself to be. At least, that's how it seems to me - you seem to be saying that if your moral position is arbitrary, it is no more arbitrary than the theist's. But that second position is simply wrong.

So if this accusation against you is offensive, it is not because of the position materially imputed to you, it is because, when properly understood, your position is morally inferior to ours.

12 August 2013 at 08:39  
Blogger Albert said...

David B,

Aggressive atheism is largely a myth, to my mind. Most atheists are pretty apathetic about religion

And yet I read in the papers this morning that the National Secular Society is trying to get the Bible removed from Desert Island Discs.

That's not apathetic, it's just pathetic. It shows a lack of cultural, historical and literary depth, and points out (referring to earlier discussions) that their version of secularism is the banishment of religion from the public square. This is a shallow, intolerant, anti-democratic and ignorant organisation. If, as you say, most atheists are pretty apathetic about religion then most atheists should be shunning, if not opposing the NSS.

"Not in my name NSS" you might say.

12 August 2013 at 08:52  
Blogger graham wood said...

""At the altar a priest isn’t a person – he is a medium through which Jesus Christ makes his presence known."

Here, Mr. Boot articulates a theological idea which the New Testament is at pains to reject.

David Anderson. Good reply. Christians do not believe in a special and separate distinction of "priest" (and Old Testament concept) and people. Yes the Book of Hebrews makes this abundantly clear.
Agree too that the "clergy/laity" concept is entirely missing from the New Testament for it teaches the 'priesthood' of all believers, not some special caste, or class.
As always the answers to such issues are found in the Bible, the Word of God, and NOT in the traditions of men.
Graham Wood

12 August 2013 at 09:08  
Blogger Albert said...

Graham Wood,

Christians do not believe in a special and separate distinction of "priest" (and Old Testament concept) and people.

Well, the Catholics do. The Orthodox do. Many Anglicans do. That makes up well more than two thirds of all Christians. Or don't we count as Christians?

12 August 2013 at 09:13  
Blogger graham wood said...

Albert said: "Well, the Catholics do. The Orthodox do. Many Anglicans do. That makes up well more than two thirds of all Christians. Or don't we count as Christians?"

Albert. The majority is not necessarily right, particularly on this issue.
The medieval RC church was in error (and corruption) for centuries on the crucial doctrine of salvation through grace and faith in Christ alone - and it was the majority!
It was only when God raised up Luther and the leaders of the Protestant Reformation that the simple NT truth of the Gospel was re-discovered!
However, our final authority is always Scripture - and the NT is clear that the OT economy of a sacrificing priesthood has gone for ever, and given way to the New Covenant of Jesus Christ.
What part of Paul's letters on this do you not understand?
Graham

12 August 2013 at 10:14  
Blogger Albert said...

Graham Wood,

Why don't read what I said. I did not say anything about the majority of Christians being right. You said:

Christians do not believe in a special and separate distinction of "priest" (and Old Testament concept) and people.

And I simply observed that, unless you do not Catholics, Orthodox and many Anglicans as Christians, that statement is simply false. Most Christians do make such a distinction. Nothing you have said since has attended to that.

The medieval RC church was in error (and corruption) for centuries on the crucial doctrine of salvation through grace and faith in Christ alone

What are you talking about? The Catholic Church believed precisely in salvation through grace and faith in Christ alone. We didn't teach the doctrine of salvation by faith alone, but then scripture does not teach this, and explicitly contradicts it.

It was only when God raised up Luther and the leaders of the Protestant Reformation that the simple NT truth of the Gospel was re-discovered!

You seriously believe that the Holy Spirit allowed the Gospel to be lost for centuries? If you do, you must believe the promises of Christ and the activity of the Spirit are null and void. In which case, you have no basis for your own salvation in Christ by his Spirit. Or it might just be that Luther's doctrine was not in fact biblical (c.f. his views on James and his mistranslation of Romans).

the NT is clear that the OT economy of a sacrificing priesthood has gone for ever, and given way to the New Covenant of Jesus Christ.

Nothing Catholics believe contradicts a word of that.

What part of Paul's letters on this do you not understand?

You seem neither to understand Paul's letters, nor the rest of the NT nor the teaching of the Catholic Church.

12 August 2013 at 10:31  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Albert and Peter D

I entirely agree that involvement of both the police and the child protection services is exactly what should have happened - and I refer you back to my original point (please don't give me that red herring about most abuse being in the family, of course it is - look at comparative numbers!)

So try this question.

Under what circumstance can you imagine that *any* parent of a young child, knowing that a priest had abused someone else's child, would think that therapy and then moving him to another parish would be acceptable rather than contacting child protection services and the police?

Quite

We may not be experts in theology, psychology, or canon law. But we're experts in child protection. Unlike most clerics, it's our main daily job.

12 August 2013 at 10:40  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

And I wonder very much if Pope Francis is considering this when he talks about the need for a greater role for women in the church. Because there are things we do look at very, very differently.

12 August 2013 at 10:42  
Blogger Albert said...

Sr T,

I entirely agree that involvement of both the police and the child protection services is exactly what should have happened - and I refer you back to my original point (please don't give me that red herring about most abuse being in the family, of course it is - look at comparative numbers!)

So try this question.

Under what circumstance can you imagine that *any* parent of a young child, knowing that a priest had abused someone else's child, would think that therapy and then moving him to another parish would be acceptable rather than contacting child protection services and the police?


I refer you back to my original comment, many of these therapists were, presumably parents! When police and other services fail to protect children, many of them are parents. Finally, let us remember that the same kinds of cover-ups have taken place in the CofE, in schools, in scouts etc. In all of the places, it is likely that those who failed to protect children were themselves parents. So your point fails I think. This is not to defend what has been wrong or to deny the proper involvement of lay, married or civil authorities, it's just to say that even when these things were in place, things were still not handled properly. The evidence is not that this was a consequence of celibate bishops having no care for children. It is that no one really knew how to deal with it. The fact that people were riddled with stupid liberalism did not help.

(please don't give me that red herring about most abuse being in the family, of course it is - look at comparative numbers!)

But we're experts in child protection.


These two statements boarder on being mutually exclusive - at least they become so when you press them into the service you want. If you want to find an authority which really did have the teeth to deal with this, it was the Code of Canon Law (which everyone ignored), which, oddly enough was written by celibate men.

Quite

12 August 2013 at 11:05  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

well, Albert, all I can say is that it's clear the Church authorities believed exactly what you say.

Is the current tally of bankrupt dioceses in American alone 4 or 5 and rising?

The fact that the Catholic Church was far from the only organisation to manage cock ups of this scale doesn't mean it got it right!

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/apr/21/boston-globe-abuse-scandal-catholic

They're still trying to extradite Cardinal Law now...

12 August 2013 at 11:39  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

And it seems at least one bishop agrees with me on this one - though he's known for his controversial opinions on a lot of things...

"The Second Vatican Council spoke of the sensus fidei or sensus
fidelium,that instinctive sensitivity and power of discernment that the members of the
church collectively possess in matters of faith and morals.
It is surely simple fact that the People of God as a whole would never have got us into the mess we are in, for their sensus fidei
would have insisted on a far more rigorous and, dare I say it, C
hristian response.
It is their children who have been abused and it is they who have had
their faith weakened or destroyed. They have even, in one way or
another, had to pay for the mess. The pope and the bishops have lost
credibility and it is only the
People of God who can restore it to them.
If the church is to move forwards, these painful lessons must be
learned, for this is an issue on which to leave out the People of God has been positively suicidal"

Bishop Geoffrey Robinson of Sydney - full text here - http://www.bishopgeoffrobinson.org/ - second link on the left column entitled "Changing the Culture"

12 August 2013 at 11:51  
Blogger Peter D said...

Sister Tiberia
The sexual abuse of children by family and people in positions of trust only really came to public consciousness in the 1970's and 1980's.

Until then it was assumed it was 'dirty old men' who perpetrated these acts or people needing therapy that would address the causes. The world has moved on and we now recognise and appreciate the phenomena.

By the way, women are and have been as blind in this as men. As something of an expert in this field I can tell you this with some confidence. No person with a proper perspective on this would nowadays return a priest to a situation where he access to children following an assault on a child - regardless of gender or parenting status.

People like Geoffrey Robinson are promoting another agenda.

12 August 2013 at 12:43  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

He may well have another agenda, Peter. It doesn't mean that he's wrong.

If you can bear to - and they're pretty unbearable - take a look at some of the files that the Diocese of Milwaukee finally released - after fighting for ten years not to release them.

http://www.andersonadvocates.com/Archdiocese-of-Milwaukee-Documents.aspx

They show just how often the therapists did say that a man was not fit ever to be trusted with children again - and the diocese still moved him and did not warn the parish authorities into which he was moved.

Sadly, in every diocese where they have lost the battle to keep the files secret, a similar pattern emerges.

12 August 2013 at 14:35  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

A similar pattern emerges here in the files released by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, though I haven't read many of these

http://projects.scpr.org/static/applications/la-archdiocese-personnel-files/

12 August 2013 at 14:38  
Blogger Albert said...

Sr T,

Is the current tally of bankrupt dioceses in American alone 4 or 5 and rising?

I don't see what difference that makes. The question is, was celibacy part of the problem of how it was handled?

Take this is a counter example. In 1966 the CofE Bishop of Portsmouth agreed with the Archbishop of Canterbury to ordain a convicted child abuser. That man went on to abuse once he had a collar on. He was left in post until the 1990s and died, without facing a court, in 2006. Now neither bishop involved in this case was celibate. Portsmouth had four children. And yet they knowingly ordained a convicted abuser and left him in charge of parishes for decades.

No one is denying that our bishops got things wrong. It's just that you point about the cause of them getting it wrong seems false - and dangerous. Remember: the CofE has only just started to introduce child protection procedures they should have had in place a decade ago. Why didn't they have such procedures in place a decade ago? I don't know, but I bet that the fact that they assumed celibacy was something to do with the problem didn't help.

They show just how often the therapists did say that a man was not fit ever to be trusted with children again - and the diocese still moved him and did not warn the parish authorities into which he was moved.

That doesn't alter the fact that therapists sometimes said the opposite, even though those therapists presumably were not committed to celibacy.

You haven't given one tiny piece of evidence to support your position. I have given quite a lot of counter evidence.

12 August 2013 at 15:16  
Blogger Et Expecto said...

Why is it that Anglican priestesses are never good looking?

12 August 2013 at 15:38  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Albert

I think frankly we'd better drop this because it's going a long way from the original argument about this one particular woman vicar and her ridiculous bumper sticker.

If you can bear to read the files I've given the links to, you'll see where my views come from. It's clear we aren't going to convince each other, so let's return this thread to the subject it began with.

God bless

12 August 2013 at 16:18  
Blogger Albert said...

Sr T,

If you can bear to read the files I've given the links to, you'll see where my views come from.

If you'll forgive me, I find it hard not to respond to that because it isn't evidence to support your case. I'm just wondering what evidence could support your case that

One thing that I will say about it is that the Church has paid a massive financial and moral price for the lack of involvement of the major expert group at its disposal - married lay people who were parents

All you've done is provide evidence that matters were sometimes mishandled. Well everyone agrees on that. But that does not support your claim that it would not have been mishandled had married lay people who are parents been involved. It just shows that it was mishandled. Your claim is like the claim that MMR leads to autism. You can find examples of children with autism who had the MMR vaccine. That does not show that they would not have developed autism without the MMR vaccine. Similarly, the fact that there is evidence of celibate bishops mishandling child abuse, does not mean they would not have mishandled it had they been married lay people.

Would married lay people have done better than the bishops? Well, here's an article, from a mass of evidence to say not:

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/03/27/passing-the-trash-deals-allow-bad-teachers-and-coaches-to-become-mobile-molestors/

Everyone got this wrong. No one is served by placing the blame in the wrong places.

If you want to look for something that would have guided the bishops to prevent this, it was Canon Law. But they didn't follow Canon Law because, under the influence of stupid liberalism, everyone thought it better not to punish people.

12 August 2013 at 18:46  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...



David B. This man has an advantage over you. He recognises his creator, and from that comes a meaning and purpose to life. You, on the other hand just happen to be here for no apparent reason. It follows with a creator, that great things are expected of us. We are expected to behave at a level already worked out for us. Thus, standards and values are inherent to human society, for although you reject God, the majority of the world doesn’t.

You do not get standards or values in the atheist world. Not true ones. You get compromise, you get objectives, you get attempts, you even get sympathy and understanding, but you don’t get standards. What is particularly troubling is the way this atheist way of doing things has slowly crept into UK society. A good example is secondary education examination results. Unless the child gets a B minimum, he’s failed. He’s been let down by society. WE have failed him, condemned him. What rot. The child should realise he may not be one of life’s winners unless he works for it. He should be taught that he may not always make the grade. He should be initiated into the world of resilience…

Other examples of failing standards include a glaring outrage. The ‘human rights’ of a murderer. To be cosseted for fifteen years before being realised to perhaps kill again. He may or he may not, it’s up to him really. Only damned atheists could dream that one up.

One actually suspects that even you secretly agree with much of what used to be called ‘common sense’, but you’d rather plunge your PC approved right hand into boiling water than to admit to it. So, can we safely add hypocrisy to the atheist’s armoury ? And then there’s smug manipulation. That’s a nice little trick by atheists if you let them. They’ll try and turn belief on its head by suggesting bush religions and that evil Islam are as Christianity. The UK is a Christian country. 33 million of us, last census. The west is a Christian entity. So why not drop that strategy – in all honesty, it’s pitiful to see you and DanJ0 resort to it.

And finally, if you believe you can successfully make a case you’ve been slandered / libelled in any of the preceding posts on this thread, you might want to consider a change of career late in your life. A lawyer specialising in whiplash injury, for example…





12 August 2013 at 18:50  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...



About the silly female vicar, well, she just needs to grow up, as do the sillier male vicars. So flipping what? WWJD? JWSD (Jesus would sigh deeply)

David Anderson & Graham Wood are right about all the priest as medium business. Priests are fallible human beings who have enough projected onto them without encouraging the wildest excesses of unhealthy expectation. They are not objects of worship and devotion as some seem to set them up (and defend them to the hilt) here.

And Bishops of all kinds have made some big big errors- errors that men are more liable to than women. Sister T is right. Partly because male sexuality is typically more urgent. I have been reading about underage brides who self immolate in Afghanistan. I have not read about any teenage bridegrooms being given a miserable time by old women who beat them. Where men dominate the culture child abuse is more likely. If women dominated the societal scandals would differ, I guess.

12 August 2013 at 20:51  
Blogger Albert said...

Lucy Mullen,

And Bishops of all kinds have made some big big errors- errors that men are more liable to than women. Sister T is right.

Clearly all the offenders were celibate men and those who mishandled the abuse also. The question has not been about whether women would have abused less and handled the matter better. I am sure that women abuse less (or perhaps their abuse is different, I don't know). The issue is whether married lay parents would have handled the matter better. As far as I can see, this is currently a claim without evidence, a claim which is contradicted by evidence outside of the Church.

They are not objects of worship and devotion as some seem to set them up (and defend them to the hilt) here.

I have seen no evidence of that. Perhaps you could be more specific.

12 August 2013 at 21:22  
Blogger Luther said...

I often say that women 'in the church' are merely 'impersonating clergymen'. This one is doing a rather better job of impersonation than most, until this ridiculous and foul use of language. There is no dignity, no sobriety, and no Christ-like quality in the use of this language.

12 August 2013 at 21:59  
Blogger Peter D said...

Sister Tiberia

Perhaps these Bishops thought to themselves: "Who am I to judge?" and believed remorse and repentance would be sufficient to overcome the drive of the sexual disorder and the temptation to reoffend.

Maybe they also exercised their individual consciences to justify overlooking the demands of Canon Law. You know, following the "rule book" isn't all its cracked up to be.

12 August 2013 at 22:50  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

One could turn it around, Peter, and say that when even the shepherds aren't following the rule book, then what chance that the sheep will? :)

12 August 2013 at 23:04  
Blogger Albert said...

I think you're absolutely right, Sr T. No one's defending what went wrong. Some priests behaved appallingly. Some bishops were utterly irresponsible. The question is why? The answer is they weren't Catholic enough.

12 August 2013 at 23:32  
Blogger Peter D said...

Absolutely Sister Tiberia. We are in agreement (praise the Lord).

What would Jesus expect? I don't know.

Here's a rant:

Any priest in confession who discloses he has assaulted children or is an active homosexual ~and they are different - should have absolution withheld until he has disclosed this outside of confession to his Bishop and, where a crime has been committed, this is also reported to the Police.

True repentance, a desire to make amends and a firm purpose of amendment demands this.

Thereafter, the priest should be suspended and have his active ministry reviewed by Rome by a 'hard nosed' and orthodox Cardinal - no exception.

Am I being terribly judgemental?

13 August 2013 at 00:30  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

Pfft!
You know it does not work like that nudnik!:)

13 August 2013 at 06:58  
Blogger Albert said...

Peter D,

Any priest in confession who discloses he has assaulted children or is an active homosexual ~and they are different - should have absolution withheld until he has disclosed this outside of confession to his Bishop and, where a crime has been committed, this is also reported to the Police.

I agree about the abuse, but not about the homosexual activity. Why would you stipulate that?

13 August 2013 at 09:36  
Blogger Naomi King said...




I saw this story on the BBC News iPad App and thought you should see it:

Transgender pupil law for California

California becomes the first US state to enshrine rights for transgender schoolchildren by passing a law allowing them to access male or female toilets.

Read more:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-23677492

13 August 2013 at 11:34  
Blogger Peter D said...

Albert

Okay, I'll qualify it, homosexuals who repeatedly sin. Maybe a one off 'indiscretion' is okay.

I believe a homosexual with a deep-rooted sexual disorder and who cannot prevent himself acting on it, is unsuitable to the priesthood. Not because homosexuality and paedophilia are necessarily the same thing or they represent a threat to others. Yet, Cardinal O'Brian's case springs to mind and one or two others in Rome. They bring scandal to the Church and damage the faith.

But then 'Who am I to Judge?'

13 August 2013 at 18:54  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Peter

Bearing in mind that the next big scandal to hit the Church is likely to be all the African priests with wives, second wives, and multiple children - would you say the same about a heterosexual priest who repeatedly dishonored his vows?

13 August 2013 at 20:34  
Blogger Albert said...

Peter,

I believe a homosexual with a deep-rooted sexual disorder and who cannot prevent himself acting on it, is unsuitable to the priesthood.

Undoubtedly so, but as far as the confessional is concerned, that would be the same for a heterosexual priest who could not prevent himself acting on it. He would be breaking his vows. The question for the confessional must surely be, is the penitent sorry? Now clearly a priest in an ongoing sexual relationship either hetero or homosexual, which he refuses to end cannot be given absolution. But that doesn't seem to be your scenario.

I suppose that if a priest finds himself in the position of uncontrollable scandalous behaviour, the case could be made that if he were really sorry, he would be taking action to get help (or to have himself removed from the scandal by being laicised). If he isn't prepared to get that help then, perhaps withholding absolution becomes a possibility. But I think in the confessional, that is not specific to homosexuality, it's about whether the person is really intending to amend their life.

13 August 2013 at 21:44  
Blogger Peter D said...

Albert

Agreed.

13 August 2013 at 22:00  
Blogger Peter D said...

... but, on thinking further about it, the Priestly obligation brings with it additional responsibilities.

14 August 2013 at 00:04  
Blogger Albert said...

Peter,

Certainly, which is why I made mention of scandal (and we both know the word does not mean what the papers think it means).

14 August 2013 at 08:42  
Blogger Peter D said...

Albert,

Indeed.

And the primary responsibility of the Priest is to God and then leading those in his charge to Christ without putting stumbling blocks in their path.

14 August 2013 at 11:18  
Blogger SuwakoMoriyaChan said...

I think if she knew that the term was originally intended to attack Christianity, it would not be used. And also, is it right to use vulgar terms? I don't think so.

15 August 2013 at 16:56  

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