Worth risking a sore back for…

I sent this off to the Sunday Age today.

Juliette Hughes’ by-line in her anti-World Youth Day article (“Tolerance? Not at God’s Woodstock” Sunday Age 6/7/08) identifies her as “a Melbourne writer and a Catholic”. Yet her article states that she does not belong to the 14% of “Catholics” who “darken the door of a church”. At the same time, she repudiates, slanders and ridicules the teachings of the Catholic Church in her article.

Not only does she stretch the definition of what it means to be “Catholic” to breaking point, but in the very article that purports to speak in the name of tolerance she demonstrates an intolerance towards the Catholic religion that comes dangerously close to running foul of Victoria’s Racial and Religious Tolerance Act.

But of course, since she is “Catholic” that makes it all alright, doesn’t it?

We’ll see if it get’s published in next week’s edition…

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17 Responses to Worth risking a sore back for…

  1. Past Elder says:

    Hey David — been a little more busy lately getting called a hatemonger on another blog of a Lutheran who ran into the Church of Vatican II, thought it was Roman Catholicism, and proclaimed himself “home”. Hell, over there one guy produced a picture of a chihuahua and proclaimed my comments Yip, Yip, Yip. Thought you might get a laugh out of that.

    Anyway, to stay on topic, you are quite right that this Hughes clearly does not accept some major Catholic teachings pre or post council, and teachings that non Roman Christians would accept too, yet counts herself Catholic.

    However, having grown up through a bachelor’s degree knowing mostly Catholics and being one myself, and now living in an area where Catholic is the largest single religion, I would have to say that quite distinct from a discussion of what really is or is not Catholic, people such as Juliette Hughes or in a different way Brian Coyne are far more typical of the average butt (or bum) in the pew Catholic than, say, you. The difference is only in the degree to which their positions are thought out and their being in a place to publish them.

    They represent the thinking of most Catholics, and I would think that represents a problem greater than the priest shortage — that so many in the (Roman) church do not think with the church at all (again, leaving aside the question of whether the church is even thinking with itself anymore) except as it maintains what they hold anyway, yet quite comfortably ignore this and continue on seeing themselves as Catholic and expecting to be taken as such.

    Certainly this is a problem for all churches, mine not excepted, but it seems to be at endemic proportions in the Roman church. I would think if I were a priest it would bother me enormously to lead services of what is supposed to be a believing community but in fact most of the people in it have not just finer points to be tuned but major differences with it.

    If it bothers you too that one so routinely encounters non-Catholic belief from people who count themselves Catholic then we have found another area of agreement and fellowship.

  2. Schütz says:

    I think you would find, Past Elder, that most nonparticipating and laity in all religious groups are pretty hazy on what does and does not authentically represent the teachings of their religion. I’m pretty comfortable with, that is a reality, and see it as a challenge to be met with education and evangelisation.

    What I am not comfortable with is people in this situation, who claim to be definitive of their religion as such, when what they are really definitive of is the nonobservance of their religion.

  3. Athanasius says:

    Catholicism must be the only organisation in which it is possible to disagree with everything it stands for, refuse to participate in its activities, but still claim membership.

    Any member of a political party who displayed similar disloyalty would find themselves on the street pretty quickly.

    For some reason, these people just can’t let go. I don’t understand the psychology behind this. Do they hang on because they really believe that the Church is what it claims to be? Then why don’t they submit to it? Or are they hoping that the fabled ‘liberal Pope’ will come along one day to tell them they can have their cake and eat it?

    This might explain, Past Elder, why this problem is bad in Catholicism. In the other churches, these people just bite the bullet and declare themselves agnostics.

  4. Anonymous says:


    Well said. Why don’t they just face the fact: they are protestant.


    Then we can all go home.

  5. Past Elder says:

    Not only would I find it, I do find it, including in my own church. I agree with you on that; I think we were making the same point in different words.

    And too, all of us, myself included, have not attained the last thing to be attained in our faith lives, as they are called these days.

    Still, it’s pretty hard to miss that the Catholic Church, for example, opposes elective abortion and artificial birth control and does not have women clergy.

    Which leads to what you call nonobservance claiming to be definitive right along with observance, which is also I think what Athanasius calls still claiming membership despite non-acceptance of what it teaches.

    I think, Athanasius, you’re onto it: I think at some level most Catholics really do think this is the true Church (again I leave aside discussion of whether it is or isn’t) and going somewhere else really isn’t an option in their minds, kind of like your family is your family even if they embarrass you and you wish they weren’t your family, and so they hope for changes in the Church, a pope to tell them what they want to hear, things like that. I think too, the language used since Vatican II — the People of God, etc — lends itself easily to this kind of appropriation to one’s own agenda. Sometimes more than lends itself, it’s taught that way — it was to me, that the community grows in its understanding of itself, and the community may move from previous understandings to better ones. And really that isn’t so much the issue for a Catholic as who directs the process, the Magisterium or the Magisterium as a reflexion of the community, which is to say, the community itself.

    So they don’t leave whereas we do. That in turn traces itself to ecclesiology, so under the Catholic umbrella you have all sorts of stuff whereas non-Catholics tend to go under or set up a different umbrella. Consequently, one finds more of this phenomena in the Catholic Church.

  6. Louise says:

    Or, as Mark Shea likes to say,

    the words, “I was born and raised a Catholic…” are nature’s way of letting you know that whatever follows will be a raving farrago of nonsense.

  7. Schütz says:

    Onya, Lou.

    And a big smiley stamp and an early minute to Past Elder, for maintaining his rather unique views but expressing them with great civility and remaining on topic. This is the sort of engagement we would value always from you, ol’ boy.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The remark by her friend “who happens to be a catholic priest” is also indicative of a certain “spirit of Vatican II” among the clergy. Very sad.
    Elise B.

  9. Anonymous says:

    don’t worry, “the clergy” you mention won’t be around for that much longer. The sad thing is they would save us all a lot of pain if they just got with the program and woke up and smelt the incense.

  10. Joshua says:

    Glad to read your comments again, PE!

    I have been all alone over at my own blog, since David hasn’t posted much lately and I haven’t therefore been commenting here nor attacking other commenters.

    (Maybe that’s a good thing, but I digress…)

    I fully agree with your comments, PE, and indeed with all of the above.

    Recall simply what the Catechism of Trent (a.k.a. the Roman Catechism) said: there are two types of Catholic, the good and the bad. How refreshing to see it put so bluntly!

  11. Past Elder says:

    Well, Herr blog host, anonymous, et al,, those spirit of Vatican II types are convinced that your type won’t be around that much longer too, and sooner or later the breath the Spirit exhaled at Vatican II will at last permeate the church.

    That is my observation, from the days when I was in the (Roman) church until now. Both sides of the issue seem to regard each other in the same way — frustrators of the Spirit’s movement who will not last.

    Which is another way of expressing why they don’t leave: they are as convinced as you that they represent the “real” church, which will in time prevail over those who stand in its way.

    And again, this is not to side with either side — as any regular readers of this blog know I do not side with either side — but to point out that there seems in the post conciliar Roman church two distinct camps each of which is convinced they are on the right side of things and the other will fade away with the sheer force of time if nothing else, so why leave.

    And as both seem to be in positions of influence in the pulpit and podium bringing up replacements, so to speak, I don’t think either side will see the other wither away any time soon.

  12. Past Elder says:

    Nice to hear from you too, Joshua.

    You have a fine blog. I’ll admit I don’t go there often, however, there are 34 Lutheran blogs I follow regularly, and one by a former Lutheran minister, and lately a once Lutheran layman blogger has swum the Tiber thinking Rome is still on the other side so I’ve been on it a bit lately. I do hit yours once in a while, along with another non Lutheran convert to post conciliar Catholicism, Dave Armstrong, whom I rather like. I think our single argument when we meet on the other side (pardon my assumption that our fates will land us in the same place) is whether to play some Jimi or some Wagner first! I will admit though that the indulgences about WYD post almost got me in!

    In any case, I do expect the “spirit” of Vatican II and the “documents” (my term for those who advocate what is actually written in them, generally called “conservative” as distinct from “traditional” Catholics here) of Vatican II positions will continue to co-exist and collide long after their original voices are gone.

  13. Mike says:

    Speaking of swimming the Tiber, Dave, you’re the ecumenical man around here. Now what about these Anglicans?

  14. Past Elder says:

    Having just been given kudos for staying on topic by our host, I trepidate, I hesitate … ah hell.

    While an exodus to Rome is being predicted over authorising female bishops, it was predicted to over female priests, and while some came, exodus would be an overstatement.

    I can understand the desparation traditional Anglicans must feel, and also an initial sense that in the Roman church such a move cannot happen as just happened in their church. However, that the Roman church literally cannot beging having female bishops in the way the Anglican church has in no way addresses the issues on which there is a Church of England as distinct from a Roman Catholic Church in England. Sooner or later, those issues will come up.

    Two other points. The English RC episcopate, and the European RC espiscopate generally, is on the whole rather to the liberal side, and they quite frankly do not want an influx of traditional Anglicans into the Roman church as their behaviour re the anticipated exodus after the women priest thing evidenced.

    Also, one could argue this was inevitable in the Anglican church, if not over women bishops over something sometime. The Anglican Church, as was discussed in a prior post, simply does not have the grounds of being a “mother church” that Rome, Constantinople or other Eastern sees can argue. So to speak, we do not have here a “fourth Rome” after Rome itself, Constantinople, and Moscow. If the traditional Anglicans were indeed to find themselves in communion with Rome, this would negate other aspects of traditional Anglicanism but perhaps they will come to that too — in ordinary language, seeing how wrong this turned out I guess we were wrong about the whole thing, so we’re back.

    The meeting recently in Jerusalem seems to be charting a course away from Canterbury but still apart from Rome, a course which would not then bring up a revaluation of the historic reasons for the “split” between Rome and Canterbury.

    God bless me sideways if I may make a final observation without losing my newfound welcome. It is a horrible thing to see the church one loves, one believes to be the “right” church and in which one expects to love one’s life to take steps that depart from that church’s identity and essence in doctrine and/or practice. Some of what are now termed traditional Catholics understand themselves to have gone through this same experience with Vatican II. It would then be an irony indeed to see those fleeing from such an event in the Anglican Church to deposit themselves in a Roman Church which has done exactly the same thing re Catholicism, just not on the issues of women clergy or homosexuality.

    Are we on topic with the subject of Catholics who do not accept some of Catholic teaching claiming normative status — well, the whole Anglican flap is another example of how even in a church which has long held a low and high church dichotomy in an uneasy tension, what happens when such a shift arises is different when not in Rome.

  15. Joshua says:

    Quite, PE.

    I feel very sorry, humanly speaking, for old Methodists, Anglicans, etc. who were brought up to believe the fundamentals of their religion and to observe its morals, and now see the dreadful vista around them of each of their once-familiar, now-strange denominations, which have lost their way almost entirely, and in morals almost worse than in dogma: it must be a painful cross.

    We all know of how Anglicans now bless sordid perversions, which should rather be cursed, and pretend to ordain most anything that moves. Here in Australia, the Uniting Church subsumed most if not all of the old Methodists, Congregationalists and Presbyterians, and has become if anything more trendy, liberal and leftist than the Anglicans, quelle horreur. I seem to recall that their current head is a lesbian, though I may be mistaken. (BTW, inhabitants of Lesbos are seeking redress from the European courts for the misuse of their name, I kid you not.)

    The husband of one older friend of mine was brought up in such a godfearing way, as a low-to-middling Anglican of quiet but decent Protestant faith: he couldn’t stomach the degenerating mess of Anglicanism any more, but neither did he feel comfortable with the Catholicism his wife came to embrace (she having had a very High Church upbringing); he told her that he planned simply to walk up the hill above their house on Sundays, and sit on a rock and stare out – he had nowhere to go anymore. And his father had been a stalwart of the local Anglican cathedral.

    I think it reasonable to say that the changes endured by these people seem to me to be worse both qualitatively and quantitatively than those suffered by Catholics; but I may be mistaken. Then again, I have no doubt but that if there were no Pope, Catholics would have changed far, far more than they have.

  16. Past Elder says:

    There was a brave little band of Episcopalians, as our American wing of the Anglican Communion is known, that set up shop in a small church building a few blocks from where I live. I am sorry to say they apparently folded, though I hope their vacancy results from needing bigger quarters. If I were Episcopalian, I would surely have been with them, and I wish them well.

    Qualitatively, I would agree, in that the Roman church has not begun to ordain female clergy, perform homosexual (being a little standards bound, I prefer to think of gay as meaning happy and carefree with no sexual reference) weddings, etc. Herein is the difference between what some here call traditional and conservative Catholics, the former being those who reject Vatican II (my guys if I were Catholic) and the latter being those who actually stick to what is said in the documents as a consistent development in the course of Catholic history, as opposed to a “spirit” allegedly to be found therein which claims equal legitimacy as authentically Catholic (with which comment I hereby stay on topic!) and therefore do not leave.

    These controversies will play themselves out differently in the Roman church, winners and losers alike staying for another day, whereas even in a church as externally similar as the Anglican Communion, leaving is a different matter.

    I’ve heard of this Uniting Church, though I don’t think there is a US version, though I may be wrong. We’ve got the Unitarian Universalists, so we’re covered! Ever heard of this Continuing Anglican Church? What in free falling frogs is that? I get stomped on another blog by a guy who claims to be a member of that, Lutheran and Reformed all in one shot. Great Caesar’s Ghost.

    Where is Lucian lately?

  17. Christine says:

    Some updates concerning the Anglican situation:

    Damian Thompson of the Telegraph has covered the rapid developments concerning the Church of England. In a report written for the Telegraph on July 8, Mr. Thompson wrote:

    “The Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, is to lead his fellow Anglo-Catholics from the Church of England into the Roman Catholic Church, the Catholic Herald will reveal this week.

    Bishop Burnham, one of two “flying bishops” in the province of Canterbury, has made a statement asking Pope Benedict XVI and the English Catholic bishops for “magnanimous gestures” that will allow traditionalists to become Catholics en masse.

    He is confident that this will happen, following talks in Rome with Cardinal Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Cardinal Kasper, the Vatican’s head of ecumenism. He was accompanied on his visit by the Rt Rev Keith Newton, Bishop of Richborough, the other Canterbury “flying bishop”, who is expected to follow his example.

    Bishop Burnham hopes that Rome will offer special arrangements whereby former Anglicans can stay worshipping in parishes under the guidance of a Catholic bishop. Most of these parishes already use the Roman liturgy, but there may be provision for Anglican prayers if churches request it.

    Anglican priests who are already married will not be barred from ordination as priests, though Bishop Burnham would not be able to continue in episcopal orders, as he is married and there is an absolute bar on married bishops in the Roman and Orthodox Churches.

    From Time:

    The scene on Monday at the Synod of the Church of England was wild. The Archbishop of Canterbury cradled his head in his hands; his presumptive successor, the Archbishop of York, appeared to be tearing at his head; and a lower-ranking prelate was reduced to public tears.


    Terry Mattingly has some interesting speculations on this, also.

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