Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Ireland: the post-mortem

Roberto de Mattei examines the corpse:
In his masterpiece “The Soul of the Apostolate”, Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard (1858-1935), Trappist Abbot of Sept-Fons, expressed this maxim: “A holy priest coincides with a fervent populace; a fervent priest - a pious populace; a pius priest - an honest populace; an honest priest - an impious populace” (Italian version, Rome 1967, p. 64). If it is true that there is always a degree less in the spiritual life between the clergy and the Catholic people, after the vote in Dublin on May 22, we should add: “An impious priest coincides with an apostate populace.”

Ireland in fact, is the first country where the legal recognition of homosexual unions has been introduced not from the top but from the bottom, through a popular referendum; yet Ireland is also one of the oldest Countries with a deep-rooted Catholic Tradition, where the influence of the clergy is still relatively strong in part of the population.
I've never liked the post-Vatican II tendency to speak of a "vocation" to the lay state. In modern discernment retreats, vocations directors often tell young people to listen very carefully to what that still, small voice inside them is whispering them to do. It's not surprising that 99% of them discern that they're being called to marriage and children. There's nothing wrong with marriage and children, but consider: Saint Don Bosco, who knew a thing or two about youth ministry, once estimated that one third of all Catholic young people had a vocation to the priesthood or religious life.

Whether it's a divine calling or not, our Blessed Lord tells us what is expected of lay people:
Matthew 5:13: You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing any more but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men.
Lay people and secular priests live and work in the world. As such, we are more susceptible to the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil than the religious in his monastery. It is the responsibility of our duly appointed pastors and bishops to strengthen the laity with the sacraments, to teach, govern, and rebuke. St. Paul's ministry largely involved exhorting the early Christians to greater unity and refuting the errors that threatened to divide them. Holy priests have a fervent flock. Impious priests have apostate flocks. And then you have shepherds like these:
"The problem in many ways is that the Church has often in the past presented its message poorly.  What is a message of love was presented in language that was harsh.  What was rational argument was presented as a dogma which all should accept.  The truth about Jesus Christ can only be proclaimed in love.  This is a challenge in today’s culture where often there is a clash of viewpoints and where we find it difficult at times to bring the message of our faith into a culture where faith is considered out of place in public discourse. The fact that in the past the Church was dogmatic in its attempted imposition of its views rather than engage in rational societal debate, does not justify people today replacing “sound-bite-ism” for dogmatism as a way of avoiding rational debate." Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin
Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown was speaking for the "no" position on the referendum, as supported by the bishops of Ireland, in a debate on the Shaun Doherty Show.
Although he maintained that legalizing same-sex "marriage" would be a "dangerous experiment," especially the ramifications in the lives of children and future generations, he equivocated that people could vote yes or no in the referendum "in good conscience," if they were as informed as possible before voting and were making a "mature decision."
"People have to make their own mature decision, be it yes or be it no. I would hate for people to be voting no for bad reasons, for bigoted reasons, for nasty reasons, for bullying reasons. People have to make up their own minds and I’m quite happy that people can do that in front of God, be it yes or be it no," Bishop McKeown said. 
“I don’t doubt that there are many people who are practicing churchgoers of whatever church background who will in conscience vote Yes, and that’s entirely up them. I’m not going to say they’re wrong,” he added. 
With respect your Excellencies, what kind of mealy-mouthed bullshit is this? The truth must be spoken in love, but you gentlemen don't speak the truth at all. The last few Irish Catholics on that Godless island were thus unable to argue against the referendum without publicly contradicting their own superiors. There is no doubt in my mind that the Irish bishops are relieved the issue has been settled for now because they can throw up their hands, say "It's the law of the land, there's nothing we can do," and get back to offering nice platitudes about how Jesus is our boyfriend who never, ever judges anyone. Sometimes I truly wonder whether most of our bishops even believe in God anymore, let alone hold to the Catholic orthodox faith they solemnly swore to uphold at their ordinations.

Catholic clergy often speak of the secularization of society as if it were a force of nature. They shrug and adapt themselves to it by avoiding the topics that modern people might find uncomfortable or offensive because that might disrupt the revenue stream. No matter how often or how spectacularly our paaaaastoral strategy of making nice with the world fails, the clergy always double down on more dialogue, more new language, more marketing gimmicks, more reaching out, more safe spaces. If the salvation of souls wasn't at stake, I'd laugh it all off as disgusting and pathetic. It's a pity the clergy don't receive spine reinforcements along with sacred chrism at their ordinations.
Luke 19:41-44: And when he drew near, seeing the city, he wept over it, saying: If thou also hadst known, and that in this thy day, the things that are to thy peace; but now they are hidden from thy eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, and thy enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and straiten thee on every side, And beat thee flat to the ground, and thy children who are in thee: and they shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone: because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation. 
The Church is not out of touch. People grow out of touch with the Church because her clergy either no longer believe or they're too embarrassed to speak the truth. The Irish bishops only offered the most token resistance to the growing apostasy in Ireland and of course they were swept away. If the clergy don't take the traditional teaching of the Church seriously, then why the hell do they expect anyone else to?

The Church doesn't need more innovations. She needs to return to herself and remember who she is and what she believes and how she used to to teach it.


  1. Hmm. I found the quote at the beginning, concerning the clergy and laity, fascinating. This is because of a conversation which I had with some fellow Traditional Catholics in my area. We had gotten around to discussing the many problems within the faithful right now, especially cowardly clergy. Someone pointed out that the laity was oftentimes more orthodox than the clergy about most matters. This was something I had heard before, including from a priest (who said so lamentably). Another person then pointed out that throughout the history of the church it was the laity of the church which helped preserve orthodoxy when the clergy was dabbling in heresy. In that sense, I think the order might be backwards- the more orthodox and righteous the laity, the better the priesthood will be. After all, where do holy priests come from if not from holy families?

    Food for thought anyways.

    1. There's something to that, to be sure. Bl. Cardinal Newman wrote that it was the laity who stood strong during the Arian crisis when most of the bishops were heretics. And when Henry VIII broke with Rome, every English bishop except St. John Fisher went along with him.

      A good rule of thumb: seek out the parish in your diocese that is considered weird and cultish. Most of the time it means the pastor is solid and the people are faithful.

    2. Part of the problem with the clergy is that they tend to be educated men. And educated men have a peculiar tendency to believe that they are wiser and smarter than God.

  2. Timothy Stanley echoed your call for "Faithful Church" in his Telegraph Blog. Speaking for myself a Non-Irish Catholic,These Liberal Bishops make me miss Fr Denis Fahey.

  3. Hey

    You mention discernment, stating one should not listen for the little voice inside them. Thats what I have been doing and I appear more confused. Any help/tips would be much appreciated. (: