Jesus invites all to repent and “Come Home”

The above “ad” is from Catholics Come Home, a successful (by all accounts I have read) public TV and Internet program for calling people into the Church. It used to be just about those who were brought up Catholic, but it has expanded it’s resources to include other evangelistic situations.

The thing you will notice about the ad above is that it isn’t so much about the Church – it isn’t advertising the Church as such – as about relationships with others, with yourself and with God. There are Catholic Come Home ads that do say how great the Church is, but the message of this one is simple: Repent. Turn back. Come home. It is the age-old message of the prodigal son who “returns to the Father”.

In today’s edition of The Age, Fr Erik Hodgens has another one of his rants against the Catholic Church (of which he is a priest!). What’s particularly got his goat this time is the announcement that Cardinal Pell intends to run the Catholics Come Home campaign in the Archdiocese of Sydney.

You would think that any campaign to call people to “come home” to the Waiting Father would be something that would make any ordained servant of the Lord Jesus Christ happy. But not Fr Hodgens. He launches into an attack on everything he sees as wrong with the Church. Isn’t there something wrong here to start with? It is clear that he despises leaders like Cardinal Pell, and his animosity is such that he will go to great lengths to publically attack the Church in any way that he can. Does he truly believe that by doing this he is serving his Lord?

I can’t speak for Fr Hodgens and what is going on in his heart of darkness. While I share his vision of a Church which clearly proclaims “a gospel of life, peace, forgiveness, love and welcome” – something which I think the Catholic Church is doing and actually is doing very well, even though it could always do better – I do not share his vision of what such a Church would look like.

He calls for a Church which abandons its witness to
• the indissolubility of the Sacrament of Marriage
• the grave immorality of sex outside of marriage (whether hetero or homo)
• the grave immorality of the destruction of embryos in IVF
• the criminality of killing unborn children
He says that

These issues are why thousands have left. Until these issues are reasonably addressed the cardinal can forget about these Catholics coming back.

The Catholics Come Home campaign does something which Jesus himself did. He preached the joy of belonging to the Kingdom of God and invited everyone to enter into it. He described it as a “marriage feast” to which everyone is invited. But he also said:

13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matt 7:13-14)

In short Jesus called for repentance from sin, and offered a Way of Life in which those who answered the call would experience freedom from their slavery to sin. Entering the Kingdom was not “easy” precisely because with the invitation came the demand to recognise the forces of sin at work in our lives and to begin a journey of life long conversion and repentance.

It seems to me significant that immediately after talking about the “narrow gate”, Jesus went on to say:

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits. Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matt 7:15-21)

Just as we should be beware of any evangelist who comes to us preaching some kind of “prosperity gospel”, a gospel of ease and success rather than the Gospel of taking up our crosses and following Jesus, so we should be beware of any false prophet who would offer us a Gospel that ceases to expose sin for what it is and ceases to call for repentance.

The bottom line is not about bums-on-pews. The Church does not have as its mission the task of making being a follower of Jesus so easy that the Kingdom no longer makes any demands upon us personally, no longer asks us to change the way we live. It is true that many have left the Church for the reasons that Fr Hodgens outlines in his opinion piece. But these things are sins. In the name of Jesus the Church offers “life, peace, forgiveness, love and welcome” to all sinners, but the Church can never stop repeating Jesus’ call to repentance from sin.

The Church has many “prodigal sons” who have left home seeking an easier life. The Catholics Come Home campaign is calling these people to hear Jesus’ invitation once again, to turn, to repent and to come home to the embrace of our Loving Father. Beware of false prophets who would suggest that there is a way into the Kingdom which bypasses this difficult and demanding call to repentance.

About Schütz

I am Catholic, married to Cathy, father of Maddy & Mia. Since 2002, I have been the Executive Officer of the Ecumenical & Interfaith Commission of the Archdiocese of Melbourne. I was once a Lutheran pastor, but a "year of grace" and soul-searching led me into the Catholic Church. It was a bumpy ride, but with the support of my (still Lutheran) wife, I was finally confirmed on June 16, 2003.
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125 Responses to Jesus invites all to repent and “Come Home”

  1. Gareth says:

    Might be more productive if the Church led a ‘Catholics in name only, Get Lost’ campaign and the not so good Father was the first one shown the door.

    What did St Paul say about a little leven?

    • Dan says:

      Major LOL!

    • Tony says:

      Might be more productive if the Church led a ‘Catholics in name only, Get Lost’ campaign and the not so good Father was the first one shown the door.

      It must be so disappointing, Gareth, that our bishops are more tolerant of ‘dissent’ than you.

      • jules says:

        I’m proud of you Tony. You have admitted that there is dissent. Now the question is , what to do? I think the pope is on the right track by reining in some of the feral theologians and nuns.

        • Tony says:

          You’re making a much stronger point than I, Jules. Gareth’s post may have been seen as ‘dissent’ given that Fr H has not been told by anyone except others who are not bishops to ‘get lost’, but I’d have stopped short of such a description.

  2. Dan says:

    This “priest” must have some friends at The Age for again they publish his rot. Did he not take a vow of obedience? I’m only a teen and I know that in publishing this article it will again stir up anti-catholic views from the PC crowd. Of course if the Archbishop were to remind him of his vow, he would probably write another article winging about censorship lol! Sometimes I wonder why Jesus doesn’t do more to weed men like him out of his sacred priesthood. You wouldn’t know it’s sacred though with the likes of him in it…

  3. Joshua says:

    As Bp Anthony Fisher put it, there are too many priests of a certain generation who have themselves a contraceptive, even an abortifacient mentality.

    Manifestations:

    1. Appearing as “self-hating Catholics”;
    2. Ranting against members of the hierarchy, not excluding the Pope;
    3. Ranting against laymen who disagree with them;
    4. Anger, even extreme anger, against any mention of things they perceive as “pre-Vatican II”, whether liturgical or devotional or theological;
    5. Eagerness to agree with practices opposed to Catholic Faith (abortion, fornication, sodomy, etc.).

    As priests, far from making Catholicism attractive, they appear frustrated and sterile, actually turning people off. Who would wish to belong to a church whose ministers are so actively dismissive of their own religion and fellow believers?

    One Lutheran pastor I know told me that he, and others who participate in ecumenical discussions, have to grit their teeth at the Catholic participants, who often cannot resist sidling up to them and eagerly revealing their anger at and dissent from the teaching and hierarchy of the Catholic Church – the very body they are representing!

    Talk about embarrassing.

    • Tony says:

      As Bp Anthony Fisher put it, there are too many priests of a certain generation who have themselves a contraceptive, even an abortifacient mentality.

      What did he actually say Joshua?

      If your summation is accurate that would really be a case of ‘Talk about embarrassing’!

      Besides the leap of imagination required to think of a priest having an ‘contraceptive, even an abortifacient mentality’, I’m really suprised that he would ascribe it to a certain ‘generation’ and that he would be so publicly negative about his priests in such a vague way.

      As priests, far from making Catholicism attractive, they appear frustrated and sterile, actually turning people off. Who would wish to belong to a church whose ministers are so actively dismissive of their own religion and fellow believers?

      I dunno. In the west we are used to robust democracies where those in power have legitimate and active oppositions and where dissent even from within is par for the course. I actually think the reaction against so-called ‘dissent’ is as likely to be a problem in democratic societies. Who, in the west, would wish to belong to a church where dissent is so frowned upon?

  4. Joshua says:

    P.S.

    I forgot (and this from the experience of many seminarians I know):

    6. Suspicion of seminarians, and even active work to get rid of them.

    That in particular – the killing off of the next generation of priests (apparently better to have none than conservative ones) – is what Bp Fisher meant to refer to by saying such priests have a contraceptive mentality; but their general behaviour likewise seems geared to driving away all but those like them, and thus to empty the churches.

  5. Joshua says:

    My mother, herself no conservative, has often remarked on the intolerance of such priests.

    Among younger Catholics, I’ve heard the proverb, “Scratch a liberal, find a fascist!”

    They may seem to argue for greater “freedom” (actually licence, in the pejorative sense, abandoning moral standards handed down in Scripture and Tradition) and “rights” (to ordain and/or marry just about anything), but both are so urged as to leave no room for those who in conscience cannot go along with this.

    There is a fearful intolerance here: mark my words, such priests and their ilk use all the power, fair or foul, that they wield to impose their views on the local church.

  6. Joshua says:

    As I think I urged Coyne quite a long time ago on this blog (or a previous incarnation thereof), surely he and all the aCatholics should stop being frustrated by the way the Church is, and instead of living schizophrenically, they ought bravely to set about reforming the Church according to their ideas, whatever the authorities may say…

    Now, of course, in many ways they have done this and still do, but if they were to force matters to a head – e.g. priests marrying, marrying male-male couples, getting women ordained, etc. – then they would no doubt be shown the door: but, I would argue, that would be no bad thing to them in their own eyes; why should they not “Sing a new church into being”?

    The anger and frustration would at last be channelled into real action. Of course, this would lead to a schism, and I believe something of this nature happened about 500 years ago…

  7. Matthias says:

    Hi Joshua hope you are well.”Catholics come home” well add to that Catholics come home plus one Proddy .
    Oh can anyone tell me do Tony and Gareth have a “history ” that I am not aware of ??Just wondering as they take pot shots at one another. I hope that they are good natured

  8. Matthias says:

    Whilst on the subject of people coming home,although there is Orthodox-Catholic dialogue going on,can anyone tell me why on some Orthodox sites there are still negative comments about the Catholic church,digs at “Uniates” in the Ukraine being given Orthodox churches,and reference to the Catholic church being influenced by the Reformation. 1054 seems to still be operating in some places.

  9. adam george says:

    Well EH is just doing another rant from his PC in his private flat as a ‘retired priest’ far away from the maddening crowd. But a couple of points:
    1. Every priest promises his ‘obedience and respect’ to the ordaining prelate into which diocese he is incardinated. EH seems to have forgotten he made that promise (probably to +Mannix) decades ago but it is made to the ordaining prelate AND his successors. Pell is one of them, Hart is another.
    2. If he is trying to be an Australian Kung, then I suggest he start writing theological treatises that are published and read worldwide. EH has never been a theolgical college professor in Melbourne or beyond.
    3. He makes the claim that John Paul II protected the horrendous Fr Maciel. That is an accusation which implies that the late pontiff knew of the acts of the priest at the time. Does EH know that as a fact? If not, and I doubt it very much, then he ought be careful of making libelous claims against the dead pope. Indeed it would be just unfathomable for the pope to have received Fr Maciel in the vatican so publicly if he had know that Maciel had been fathering children and had mistresses whilst heading his own priestly Order.
    4. What +Pell does in his diocese is his business as bishop and leader. He is accountable before God as bishop. He is much attacked and despised by many priests in Melbourne who never liked him as their Ordinary. Those were the ‘liberal,leftist’ priests who have caused the fabric of the Church in Melbourne to be torn asundewr with their liberal catechetical views as well as soft liturgical opinions.

    Is it any wonder EH spends his time now hurling hand grenades at any bishop within firing range. That he blasted amost every Pope since Pius XII including the Venerable John Paul only serves to show that he continues to be bitter and venomous in his latter years. Perhaps he needs to get out amongst the people and hear what they have to say about loyalty, prayer and simple loving faith. It is a very sad state of affairs that he has to make his case via The Age and not from a pulpit – oh, perhaps that would be too dangerous as the people may just do an a’Beckett.

    Pax

    • Tony says:

      Well EH is just doing another rant from his PC in his private flat as a ‘retired priest’ far away from the maddening crowd.

      Is being far away from the maddening crowd a bad thing here? If so, it would condemn the Pope, most cardinals and many bishops. EH has retired after 40+ years involvement with the ‘maddening crowd’ and, if our dio is anything to go by, he is still busy filling in for other priests on a regular basis.

      1. Every priest promises his ‘obedience and respect’ to the ordaining prelate into which diocese he is incardinated. EH seems to have forgotten he made that promise (probably to +Mannix) decades ago but it is made to the ordaining prelate AND his successors. Pell is one of them, Hart is another.

      Such promises don’t preclude disagreement or engaging with controversial issues. If they did it would be a childish promise.

      2. If he is trying to be an Australian Kung, then I suggest he start writing theological treatises that are published and read worldwide. EH has never been a theolgical college professor in Melbourne or beyond.

      Assuming — and, to put it charitably, it’s a big assumption — that he is trying to be an ‘Australian Kung’.

      3. He makes the claim that John Paul II protected the horrendous Fr Maciel. That is an accusation which implies that the late pontiff knew of the acts of the priest at the time. Does EH know that as a fact? If not, and I doubt it very much, then he ought be careful of making libelous claims against the dead pope. Indeed it would be just unfathomable for the pope to have received Fr Maciel in the vatican so publicly if he had know that Maciel had been fathering children and had mistresses whilst heading his own priestly Order.

      It may be unfathomable to you, but the evidence abounds in all sorts of publications. Just one example:

      The complaints about sexual abuse first surfaced in the 1990s when nine former members of the Legionaries went public with their complaint that they had been abused by Maciel as seminarians and young priests as long ago as the 1940s. Maciel was also charged with having given persons with whom he had committed a sin absolution in confession, an excommunicable offence. John Paul never responded to formal complaints against Maciel made through official church channels in 1978 and 1989. The first expos of the charges was published in The Hartford Courant in 1997 and picked up by others, but there was no response from the Vatican. A canon law case against Maciel was quashed without explanation in 1999.

      And Fr Maciel’s ‘expertise’ in raising funds and what he actually did with the money — buying power essentially — were also well known.

      JPII has a case to answer regarding his relationship with Marcial Maciel. It beggars belief that a man so corrupt and so powerful could have got away with what he did without some sort of Vatican ‘blind eye’ or, worse still, approval.

      4. What +Pell does in his diocese is his business as bishop and leader. He is accountable before God as bishop. He is much attacked and despised by many priests in Melbourne who never liked him as their Ordinary. Those were the ‘liberal,leftist’ priests who have caused the fabric of the Church in Melbourne to be torn asundewr with their liberal catechetical views as well as soft liturgical opinions.

      Such sweeping generalisations are of very little value in a serious discussion IMO.

      Is it any wonder EH spends his time now hurling hand grenades at any bishop within firing range. That he blasted amost every Pope since Pius XII including the Venerable John Paul only serves to show that he continues to be bitter and venomous in his latter years.

      Or that he has genuine disagreements.

      Perhaps he needs to get out amongst the people and hear what they have to say about loyalty, prayer and simple loving faith.

      He did, for over 4 decades. Now he is reflecting on that experience.

      It is a very sad state of affairs that he has to make his case via The Age and not from a pulpit – oh, perhaps that would be too dangerous as the people may just do an a’Beckett.

      You think he would have more credibility if he said these sorts of things from the pulpit? What? During a homily?

      • adam george says:

        well having watched about 15 hours live on Aljazeera over the weekend in Cairo I think I ought reply to the comments to my own dissection of EH which seem to have missed the mark completely. Indeed, I went back to The Age piece and have the following to say:
        1. EH is not even referred to at the top of the article as Fr EH. Any reason why The Age does not? Afraid of his priestly status? Small point but relevant in the context here.
        2. On a stronger note. Tony fails to read that EH refers to Pell and the bishops ‘changing policies’. Well, this must be a first, as I did not think abortion, divorce, marriage, homosexuality were ‘policies’ but rather were faith/and /or moral issues that are teachings based on Scripture and the Church’s magisterial teaching. This only goes to show the very wooly, elastic thinking and argument of EH, who seems to have chucked out his Summa into the ditch.
        3. EH goes on to argue for ‘womens equal status’ in ministry. This must be one of the great red herrings of this new century. Would he have us go down the ragged path of Anglicanism in UK and USA where there are women priests, women bishops and falling numbers. This type of 21st century social theology and compromise is what is causing huge numbers of UK anglicans to abandon the CofE and cross the Tiber (as I saw recently in London w three former anglican bishops enter the Catholic Church). Watch the continued exit.
        The fact is these are NOT policies, these are matters of faith and morals. There is NO GREAT CLAMOUR for women priests or bishops across the Catholic Church, just as there is not in the Orthodox faith. Nor is there in Islam or Hinduism or Buddhism. So, let’s get real. The Cof E is ina state of descendinf importance and influence. It has lost its theological compass centuries ago and any ‘Church’ founded on the right to divorce and remarry is bound to slide off the theological rails.
        But EH doesn’t even bother to look at Anglicanism and what is happening there and also to gauge what catholics believe on women priests etc. There is no clamour in Europe, certainly not in Asia and just some unhappy nuns in the USA and Canada who want to become priests.
        4. Abortion. Now that is the KEY ISSUE. Tony, you seem to have overlooked that moral issue. Is that another ‘policy’ issue that Pell and the bishops ought look at? COME OFF IT. Abortion is the taking (yes murder) of an innocent, unprotected life in the womb. Bl M Teresa fought fearlessly against abortion all her life. The Church does so, its bishops do so – the last bastion in a world which would often seel to make it a moral laxity. So is EH saying that is a bad policy? Would he dare say that in the pulpit? If he did, then I would suggest Hart could do a Beckett on him. Any move to change the teaching on abortion is scandalous, immoral and outrageous.
        There should be no debate on abortion at all in the Church. If you can kill a foetus at 24 weeks but at 25 it can be born a baby – what is the difference in a week to life?
        5. Bringing up the issue of cardinal Law is an easy one like Fr Marciel and hundreds of priests, som bishops and even a cardinal or two. They are giving scandal to many and the Church has to take its stand and is doing so, yes under pressure and somewhat late.
        I conclude by reaffirming that the Church has its teachings, priests and bishops alike cannot change teaching that has the certitude of the Scriptures and the Magisterium. Remember the Lord’s words, ‘what you bind on earth will be bound inn heaven’.
        EH has gone off on a tangent of moral relativism, theological uncertainty and where does it lead? To a theological vacuum that will lead nowhere. I think its a pity a retired priest has to resort to The Age to get his lax views across and highlight his own theological failings. The people of God do not need that – they DO need bishops and popes who are great preachers of the Gospel and faithful to that Gospel, its teachings and the certitude that comes with that.
        EH gives no certitude at all with his disloyal questioning of popes, bishops and more importantly the Gospel Truths.
        Pax

        • Tony says:

          1. Yes it is a small point and hard to draw any conclusions given that ‘Father Eric Hodgens is a retired Catholic priest’ appears at the bottom of the article.
          2. Drawing a ‘strong’ conclusion because EH uses ‘policies’ as opposed to any other term is risky. It may simply be a preference for a secular audience or it may have even been a sub-editorial decision.
          3. I’m not aware of ‘huge numbers’ of Anglicans crossing the Tiber and, more specifically, that women priests are a significant factor in their move.
          There is no ‘clamour’ because the church doesn’t actually ask people what they think.
          4. It is not clear from the article that EH is asking for the church’s attitude to abortion to be reversed, just looked at.
          5. The context of remarkes about Cardinal Law and Fr Marciel is relevant because they occured on PJPII’s watch. EH is suggesting he has a case to answer. I think that is right on the money.

          If EH ‘resorts to’ the Age, what about people like +Pell and others who are regular contributors to secular press?

          • adam george says:

            Well well well, reply needed:
            1. ‘policies’ – suited for secular audience? The Church does not and never has had theological policies. They are teachings, full stop. Policies are for governments, which they HOPE to implement and mostly do not, or they change them. This is the nub of EH and his attacks on popes and bishops – they do not just change ‘policy’ according to a time and century or now, of the media demanding ‘the Church update’.
            2. The ‘Church’ is NOT required to ask the people what is their view on abortion, indissolubilty of marriage, priesthood.
            3.”It is not clear from the article that EH is asking for the church’s attitude to abortion to be reversed, just looked at” These are your words T, BUT EH makes a mammoth mistake here even if he wants a ‘look’ at abortion. What does he want to look at? The morality of murder of an innocent? The infusing of the immortal soul into the foetus from conception?
            The teaching on abortion does not need a look at at all and I have not heard a single bishop in the Church or the pope asking for a ‘look’. EH is not a teaching bishop.
            4. On Law and Marciel I do agree with you (yes) that these have many question marks over them and indeed the curia appears to have been making some bad judgments – possibly horrendous judgments on these two, but more so on Marciel. But we have still to be cautious in judging a dead pontiff who can’t answer now.
            I think his priov secretary would be able to advise on this but probably not much hope for that. And card Sodano who allegedly received monies from Marciel is certainly not going to answer on that front (cf. John Allen in NCR).
            But I still maintain that JPII would never have received Marciel at the vatican had he known of the priest’s double life fathering kids and having mistresses. That beggars belief. A pope cannot be seen to do so or it would be a monstrous scandal.
            But this debate that rages here on SCE seems to have got off message. I thought it was all to do with EH’s critique of +Pell and his media programmes. And indeed by making his critique EH has opened up a public debate.
            I am still wondering why a retired 70+ priest in melbourne is ‘waging an ongoing war’ with an archbishop in a dicoese 1000miles away.
            Methinks he has an unfulfilled agenda against Pell.
            Pax

  10. Paul G says:

    Hi David,
    I think your reaction to Fr Hodgens’ article hits the mark. People who reject the Church often do it, not because of philosophical objections, but because they don’t like being told that some things are wrong and should not be done.

    The fact that they spend so much time
    a) criticising the Church
    b) trying to mock it for losing popularity, influence and bottoms on pews

    suggests to me that they are not as sure as they seem about the supposed “errors” of the Church.

  11. Tony says:

    There is much in your response that, to me, reflects the kind of jounalistic exaggeration you’re so good at David, but one statement stood out:

    I can’t speak for Fr Hodgens and what is going on in his heart of darkness.

    So, you can’t speak for him but you know that he has a ‘heart of darkness’? At one level it is an amazing claim — that is, presuming to know someone’s ‘heart’ — at another it seems really juvenile — that is, he argues strongly and in public about certain church issues so his heart must be dark.

    He is an adult, he has dedicated his adult life to the church, he is now in retirement and reflecting on his experience and the issues he believes are impediments to the church in the world he observes. Does that make him right? Of course not. Does it make him bitter or dark-hearted? I can’t see how such a claim is justified.

    If it is not justified, it reflects badly on the rest of your response.

    In my opinion as always.

  12. Louise says:

    I’m just left wondering – yet again – what kind of Church we would have if marriage were completely trashed (it almost is), contraception were given the formal ok (most married Catholics use it now anyway and abortion were also given the formal ok.

    I mean, as an example, what exactly is so great about Catholic schools now being a dating service for the separated parents of the students?

    What is so great about big families being a laughing-stock? What exactly is so great about “unwanted” babies being shredded? Anyone?

    Finally, would such a Church actually get the bums on seats? I seriously doubt it.

  13. Matthias says:

    Well Louise the Episcopal Church USA meets all of this criteria and wonders why it is
    emptying out. the Uniting Church of Australia,of which i was a member ,for nearly 20 years,has had projections that it will not last another 40 years. Bacially because it is culturally relevant .

  14. Catherine says:

    I am surprised that Fr Hodgens could think that by changing the Church’s teachings we would get more members, e.g. The Uniting Church is pretty much anything goes yet their attendance numbers have plumetted and I believe the strict, very orthodox religious orders do better in attracting vocations than the more liberal orders.
    Personally, I am amazed that Fr Hodgens wants the Church to say abortion is ok.

    I do understand his desire that things be easier for people in terms of the remarriage issue. The till death do you part thing is very hard to live up to and some people find themselves abandoned by an unfaithful partner, or one who is going through a mid life crisis. I have some wonderful divorced friends who I truly feel have been wronged by their spouses. Fortunately they have managed to get annulments, but not everyone does and it does seem unfair that those who cannot get their marriages annulled(and did not want the divorce) must be resigned to being alone.

    • Louise says:

      I don’t know, Catherine. I think the better road for deserted spouses (and yes, there are far too many of them these days) is to remain faithful to their prodigal spouse and pray for their return. It is also possible to work on the marriage, even when one person makes such a terrible and unfaithful decision. It’s a worldly view that suggests that people cannot be happy or have a good life while remaining faithful to an unfaithful spouse. The fact that desertion happens all too frequently is largely the result of contraception and no-fault divorce and worldly thinking. The Church needs to stop giving in to this thinking.

      I hope for The Great Restoration.

    • Louise says:

      What’s just as unfair (more unfair, in fact) is the large numbers of children who must not only put up with separated parents, but also two step-parents etc.

      • Catherine says:

        Yes, it is a shame that children are deprived of having both their parents living together with them, but taking on step children is no picnic for step parents! Both the children and the step parents have a hard road. Some step parents have come to be married to a divorced person , after the divorcees marriage has fallen apart.

        For some children, it is a relief when their parents re partner as the children do not have to act as the parent’s substitute spouse and/worry about their parent being alone or lonely when they are on access with the other biological parent.

        Being married is extremely difficult. The Church fails , in my opinion, to acknowledge this. It is too easy to get married. There should be far , far more emphasis on marriage preparation. In my opinion there should be compulsory thorough marriage education, not a weekend or a few chats with a priest. I would require people to read a list of texts on the differences between men and women in terms of how they generally think, feel and act. There should also be some education on sexuality, differences between the sexes and how to handle differences in libidos. I would set an exam on the reading material and if people didn’t ge t a pass mark I would consider they should not get married.

        • Louise says:

          but taking on step children is no picnic for step parents!

          All the more reason to make it harder to obtain an annulment.

          I agree about more rigor in the marriage prep, particularly if the Church is going to keep a fairly soft stance on annulments.

          If the main reason for getting an annulment is “insufficient reasoning/maturity” (can’t remember the exact phrase) then the Church should consider subjecting fiancees to psychological testing etc and then start issuing certificates declaring him/her to be marriage material.

          Either that, or tighten the criteria for annulments by getting rid of some of the modern inventions in that area.

          Making things more “fair” for one group of people, in my observation, just makes it much, much more unfair for other groups. We need to recognise this.

          • Catherine says:

            Actually I think some psychological assessment of marriage candidates would be a great idea. When I hear , for example, about married men insisting they play golf rain, hail or shine throughout their married life, regardless of the demands of having numerous young children, i doubt that they had the psychological maturity to take on married life

          • Catherine says:

            I do not believe that in Australia people get annulments easily. Criteria do have to be met, the applicant is interviewed, witnesses are interviewed, the other party is asked to give their side of the story if they so wish etc.

            There are many people of insufficient reasoning/maturity getting married. I have heard many stories about disastrous marriages and some people are unfortunate enough to marry people with recognised psychiatric disorders. (e.g. personality disorders).

            Given the poor state of Catholic education for over 50 years, many people who have been married in this time had no idea about what they were undertaking. I would argue there should be more annulments!! When I see divorced people, without annulments, who are living with defactos or engaging in casual sex trotting up to mass and taking communion totally unaware that they are doing anything wrong, I come to the conclusion they had no more idea than a cat, what they were doing the day they got married in a Catholic Church.

            I am not judging them, hey they belong to my generation and went to a Catholic school, so I know they didn’t learn anything.

            • Gareth says:

              Catherine: I do not believe that in Australia people get annulments easily.

              Gareth: Not sure if I agree Catherine, we ALL know the odd story of this and that person in our parish who after twenty or so years of marriage and children mysteriouly had their marriage deemed invalid and then they mysteriously gained the psychological capabilities to enter into another marriage.

              Sadest of all, the first thing Catholics now say when a Catholic separates is ‘annulnment’. This is seriously sad as this is not what an annulnment is about at all (i.e. to act as quasi-divorce).

              I acknowledge there are some extreme cases as you have mentioned but at the heart of the matter is there are BIG BUCKS involved for the Church in the annulnment process.

              Do you we really think Bishops are going to put their foot down, when the process is financially beneficial to the Church?

              I am a cynic, I don’t think so.

        • Gareth says:

          Catherine: Being married is extremely difficult. It is too easy to get married. There should be far , far more emphasis on marriage preparation.

          Gareth: I have to agree with this. I have known two or three young couples in the past few years who were both past 21 years of age and they waltzed on in to the altar easy peasy.

          Not sure what the priest was thinking in these cases.

          Sure it must be hard for the priest, like deciding whether to baptise a child of parents whom they must know are only doing this to get their kid into a Catholic school in five years time but I honsetly think parish priests should take a more rigorous approach to assessing couples and base it more on how involved they are in parish life etc.

          • Catherine says:

            Gareth, the Church is not making “”big bucks” out of annulments. I believe the cost is a couple of hundred dollars and that seems quite reasonable given that the applicant is interviewed and the witnesses are interviewed, and they may have to chase up witnesses who are interstate or overseas .

            • Gareth says:

              Catherine,

              As sincere as your belief may be, I beg to differ for a variety of reasons.

              The hard facts are that the Church DOES make money out of annulments and every local Diocese office includes within its finances its ‘Marriage’ office.

              Annulments are for the most part simply ‘back-door divorces’ and if the Church was sincere in not being seen as using them as a money-making exercise then surely it should do something about the thousands of marriages that it perceives as invalid and grants annulments for at the drop of a hat whilst they are still intact???

              Oh, sorry I forgot – ‘fake marriages’ are only seen as fake in the Church’s eyes once they are fallen over?? Read hypocrisy.

              One simply only has to look at some of the modern guidelines behind annulments to also prove my point. One can get an annulment now if you were brought up in a dysfunctional family or had not been ready in your mind for marriage. Anybody could say they were not ready for marriage??

              Also, consider what the above says about ordinations? Why not allow some of them to be annulled as well?

              Why are there are so many cases of the rich and famous being granted dubious annulments (remember Nicole Kidman)?

              Not to mention that the Pope has condemned annulment tribunals for being too generous in doling out annulments. Then one wonders why the Bishops don’t set up a commission to examine their work?

              I stand by my assessment that somehow money has to play some part in why the answers to these questions are so dubious.

            • Louise says:

              I’d be surprised if the Church is making big bucks out of annulments, but it has to be said that there are far too many of them.

              The process involved does not mean that annulments are not relatively easy to come by. The fact that there are so many really just means that they are far too easy to get. Largely I agree with Gareth on this topic.

            • Catherine says:

              Gareth, why would the CHurch be publicly denouncing Nicole for marrying Tom Cruise.? We are free to make our own decisions as to who we marry.Mr and Ms Average and free to marry whoever they wish without the Churchs comment so we should celebrities be singled out for a finger wagging.?

              The validity of marriage has nothing to do with how long a couple hs been married or how many children were produced. it is about their state of mind BEFORE and on the day they got married.
              Someone could have been pressured into marriage because they were pregnant, there was not free consent but they went on to have more kids and to be married for x no of years. Some people marry just to have kids, they do not want the spouse, just the opportunity to have kids. I have heard that some wives from day one of the marriage refuse to have sex unless it is the fertile time! I have heard some weird and wonderful stories about people who have got annulments and they DEFINITELY MARRIED PEOPLE WITH SERIOUS ISSUES and deserved to get an annulment.

            • Catherine says:

              Actually Gareth the Catholic Church does allow priests, nuns., brothers to leave religious life.

              I do not know what family back ground you come from Gareth but when people come from nice stable families they often have no idea as to the horrific upbringings that other people have. Some people by nature of their upbringing would be severely damaged and not capable of marriage.

            • Gareth says:

              Catherine: Actually Gareth the Catholic Church does allow priests, nuns., brothers to leave religious life.

              Gareth: Actually, Catholic religious take an oath binding under the pain of mortal sin.

              They are only get ONE shot.

            • Gareth says:

              Catherine: Gareth, why would the CHurch be publicly denouncing Nicole for marrying Tom Cruise.?

              Gareth: Because if their marriage really is or was invalid, then they would have been living in a state of adultery, right?

              If the Church deems such marriages as invalid, surely there should be a genuine attempt or an obligation by the Church to make the couple retract of their errors whilst their marriage was intact right?

              But, I get it. They suddenly woke up after eleven years of marriage and two children and discovered their marriage wasn’t real after all or in reality only discovered their marriage was not real once they wanted to move onto a ‘second go’.

              You see if Tom and Nicole were still married or the millions of others, then no-one could care less and there marriage would be deemed as genuine.

              It is only after things don’t work out do people all of a sudden make a song and dance about their marriage suddenly being not real.

              It really, really does not work the way things were intended and makes a mockery of the Church’s stance on divorce.

              Catherine: Some people by nature of their upbringing would be severely damaged and not capable of marriage.

              Gareth: So why did the Catholic priest who prepared them for marriage deem them as capable to begin with?

              Surely it is contradictory to be prepared by a priest for marriage and he deems them firtfor marriage, but a few years later when things don’t work out, all of a sudden that person was deemed incapable.

              There is just no consistency.

          • Catherine says:

            Gareth I am about to work so don;t really have time to respond to all your points. But I will state that Nicole Kidman got an annulment because SHE MARRIED A SCIENTOLOGIST!!
            If she married without the presence of a Catholic Priest, her marriage would not have been considered valid by the Church. She didn’t buy her annulment, as you, suggest, she was never considered married by the Church. Furrthermore, Tom Cruise had been married at least once prior to marrying Nicole (so he may not have been eligible to marry, even if Nicole had had a priest at their wedding).
            Nicole’s annulment was not bought!!

            • Gareth says:

              Yes, I understand this is part of the Church’s teachings but I can’t say it makes much sense to me and it only further highlights the hypocrosy of the Church’s teachings on the matter.

              I mean Nicole Kidman is a pretty high-profile person, if the Church considered her first marriage invalid, why did it remain so silent and do absolutely nothing whilst it was still intact and therefore according to the Church living in a state of sin??

              Why only consider it invalid once it breaks up and she started sulking for an anulnment?

              A civil marriage is (sacramentally) not valid in the eyes of the church, but it needs to be remembered that a couple married in a non-Catholic service are still two becoming one flesh, even if this is joined by the ruling legal system rather than God.

              Allowing circumstances for a person that is married in a non-Catholic marriage to re-marry whilst completely disallowing under all circumstances couples that marry in Catholic ceremony is not excactly just, neither is it truly following the intentions of that section of the Church’s teachings which first came into effect after the Council of Trent to ensure all Catholics marry before a priest (which 99.9 per cent did for centuries) rather than people trying to find some disclaimer in order to marry a second time, just because their first didn’t ‘work out’.

              If the above is correct, millions of people’s legitimate marriages across the world are invalid for the simple reason they did not take their vows before a Catholic priest (who if Father Hodgens is anything to go by, probably braindead anyway), yet the Church can only be bothered doing anything about this if something is in it for them.

            • Catherine says:

              Ps Gareth, only catholics have to be married before a catholic priest for their marriages to be considered valid. The Church acknowledges marriages between members of other denomintations and as I understand marriages between people of no faith.

  15. Catherine says:

    I do not think the issue of contraception has driven people away from the Church in recent years as noone ever hears it is wrong in a sermon.People undoubtedly left the Church when Humane Vitae came out, but now few Catholics would know that articial contraception was not permitted.Certainly as someone who attended a Catholic school ,up to and including Year 10, I never once heard that artificial contraception was not permissible or that nfp was available.

    Personally, I think barrier methods of contraception are OK. I can understand that certain forms of contraception are abortifacient but barrier methods prevent conception from taking place.

    People leave the Church for a myriad of reasons: yes they may have had an abortion, got divorced and remarried without an annulment. discovered they were gay or lesbian etc . But many Catholics of generation X and Y left because the general societal culture is secular and materialistic and they knew nothing of what it meant to be a Catholic as noone had provided them with any religious instruction, yet Fr. Hodgens does not mention that at all.

    • Louise says:

      Catherine, I agree with you on why people leave the Church.

    • Tony says:

      While I certainly agree, Catherine, that the reasons people have left in droves in recent decades — in fact the decline has been pretty steady (allowing for spikes in wartime) for around 100 years — I don’t think you can underestimate the significance of HV in terms of one issue that stands out.

      It was well-publicised at the time and there was a real hope that the church would listen to its own advisors as this Wiki extract explains:

      In 1963 Pope John XXIII established a commission of six European non-theologians to study questions of birth control and population. The commission that Pope John XXIII formed to study population problems as well as acceptable methods of birth control met once in 1963 and twice in 1964. As Vatican Council II was concluding, Pope Paul VI enlarged it to fifty-eight members, including married couples, laywomen, as well as theologians and bishops. The last document issued by the council (Gaudium et spes) contained a very important section titled “Fostering the Nobility of Marriage” (1965, nos. 47-52), which discusses marriage from the personalist point of view. The “duty of responsible parenthood” was affirmed, but the determination of licit and illicit forms of regulating birth was reserved to Pope Paul VI. After the close of the council a fifth and final meeting of the commission was held, again enlarged to include sixteen bishops as an executive committee, in Rome in the spring of 1966. The commission was only consultative but did make a report to Paul VI approved by a majority of members, proposing that he might use his authority to approve at least some form of contraception for married couples

      When you consider the membership of that commission and the times where the church was attempting to be more open to the world, it was a huge dissappointment.

      Of course you may entirely agree with the outcome, but, again, I think it was a tipping point in the decline of Catholicism in the west.

      When you look at the small size of young families who actually participate on a regular basis in parishes, it’s pretty safe to assume that HV is being quietly ignored even within.

      More recently, I suspect that the other huge tipping point issue has been the abuse crisis.

      • Gareth says:

        Tony wastes 15 minutes of his life trying to tell us that some dumbasses on a Papal Commission in the 1960s had a bright idea and thought they could overturn close to 2,000 years of Christian teaching.

        • Tony says:

          So the commission appointed and added-to by two Popes were ‘dumbasses’, Gareth?

          All those people, all that time and here’s one of me only ‘wasting’ 15 minutes!

          • Gareth says:

            Tony: So the commission appointed and added-to by two Popes were ‘dumbasses’, Gareth?

            Gareth: Well the Holy Spirit obviously didn’t think much of their recommendations and the test of time hasn’t added much weight to their cause either.

            • Tony says:

              Ah, I see. The HS inspired the popes to appoint ‘dumbasses’ but then inspired PPVI to reject their advice?

            • Gareth says:

              I thought the Commission was just there for shits and giggles and to prove to themselves that they were better Catholics than the rest of us, alias extra-ordinary ministers marching up to the altar in this day and age, but you can look to them as a respectable source if you do wish.

            • Tony says:

              The credibility of the commission comes from being appointed by two Popes, Gareth, not because I regard them as a ‘respectable source’.

              And, while it is clear that PPVI took a different view to the majority on contraception, I can see no evidence that he, or his predecessor, regarded them with the contempt you seem to hold.

            • Gareth says:

              I don’t view them with contempt.

              I simply view their recommendations as wrong and move on.

              I am not sure why people parade them out as an example forty years on, when they are completly irrelevant.

            • Tony says:

              I don’t view them with contempt.

              The language you’ve used is not contempt?

              I am not sure why people parade them out as an example forty years on, when they are completly irrelevant.

              Because it was relevant to this conversation, Gareth.

            • Gareth says:

              No it’s not, unless one is a dumbass and buys the fabrication that there was somehow a real hope that these buffoons had something decent to say on the matter.

              They didn’t and they should be put in their rightful place, to the irrelevancy dustbin of history.

            • Tony says:

              This was how PPVI put it in HV (with my emphasis):

              When the evidence of the experts had been received, as well as the opinions and advice of a considerable number of Our brethren in the episcopate—some of whom sent their views spontaneously, while others were requested by Us to do so—We were in a position to weigh with more precision all the aspects of this complex subject. Hence We are deeply grateful to all those concerned.

              He obviously didn’t share your view of the commission.

            • Gareth says:

              Yeah, he was only trying to be nice.

          • Louise says:

            Tony wastes 15 minutes of his life trying to tell us that some dumbasses on a Papal Commission in the 1960s had a bright idea and thought they could overturn close to 2,000 years of Christian teaching.

            hehehe.

            1. I thought Gareth was suggesting that only the people on the commission who were in favour of contraception were the dumbasses.

            2. It is possible for a pope to be a dumbass, but that’s not an expression I would use normally, out of respect for the office.

            • Tony says:

              At the risk of wasting your time, L …

              1. That possibility doesn’t make the assertion any more likely or credible IMO.

              2. I guess you’re only trying to be nice too!

      • Catherine says:

        Tony, I do agree with you that the sexual abuse scandal has done the Church massive damage. I would not leave the Church because of it, but I am sure many of those who lives have been touched by the offences have and I do not blame them. the Church hierarchy has made a major hash of this.

        Working in mental health, I know the damage that childhood sexual abuse does, and personally I would lock offenders up and throw away the key to ensure that they never got to another child. However, I am sure that some church officials mishandled the whole business because they did not under the nature of paedophilia. perhaps they thought if they said ” go and sin no more”, the priest involved would simply cease the offences. Perhps they didnt realise letting a child molesting priest anywhere near children waas like placing an alcoholic in the midst of a brewery.

        I know from dicussions with my mother and her friends ( think pof people 70plus years old) that child sexual abuse has been something that was very poorly handled in the general community, and at the end of the day the CHurch is part of the broader community. My mother, as a child, had a very minor incident wher a neighbour attempted to fondle her. Her mother severed all contact with the neighbour and forbade my mother from every going anywhere near him, BUT SHE DID NOT GO TO THE POLICE. This amazes me, but apparently this was not uncommon in that era. People just swept things under the carpet under the principle of “least said, soonest mended” and din’t think of the implications,e .g. for other kids!!

        • Tony says:

          I accept what you say about the times, Catherine, but on my reading, by the late 70s and early 80s the bishops conferences were getting solid material from reliable resources that stated the dangers of ‘moving offenders on’. By then they also had the evidence of their own experience.

          We are told so often that the church represents a challenge to the negative aspects of our culture but in this issue — an issue that has so many wretched and far reaching consequences — the church acted no better, and often worse, than a multinational corporation. If you looked at the history of ‘big tobacco’ and the church in parallel you’d almost think they were taking the same advice.

          Again, I don’t know if we’ll ever see figures which suggest how many people left because of it, but I suspect it was another significant event that has undermined the church’s moral credibility in the cultural context of just about every traditional institution being on the nose.

      • Catherine says:

        Tony, I would agree that many people may have left the church at the time Humane Vitae was announced, but now many churchgoers would not even know artificial contraception is allowed and are happily contracepting in good conscience. These days people are very much into the primacy of their own conscience and will think for themselves as to what they will do on the issue of contraception. Now before anyone tells me that one must have a properly informed conscience in light of Catholic teaching, I know that is the official line, but it is a difficult issue for those people who are faced with difficult circumstances.

        e.g. if a woman is 40 plus there is a significant risk of having a child with Downes syndrome. She may or may not be married to someone who is pro life. Now if she gets pregnant and the child is downes she may under pressure to have an abortion. If she goes ahead and has the baby she may be left with a disabled child which will need extra care and no husband to support her.
        Now she could adopt this kid out but that would be situation of great anguish.

        Now a forty something woman could say “”well, I dont believe in abortion, I have no intention of having an abortion so i will make sure I dont get pregnant.by using some barrier method or to be absolutely foolproof might have her tubes tied or get her partner to have a vasectomy.”

        I am not denying papal infallibility on matters of faith and morals but at the end of the day , the CHurch hierarchy is not going to be carrying the can, the individuals having the babies are . Some women have severe, debilitating morning sickness for months and months and already have existing children to care for and they persist with very difficult pregnancies as they dont believe in abortion, but once they have the child they make sure there are no more by getting themselves or their partners sterilised.

        Now I know the Church would say, use NFP or just dont have sex and offer it up to God etc, but married people do expect to have sex and sex does play a positive role in keeping people together.

        • Tony says:

          Catherine,

          I agree with much of what you’ve written, but it seems to me that the church just says ‘no’ and people’s lived experience and capacity to make moral decisions base on that experience just doesn’t come into it.

          I had two severely disabled siblings who’s condition ‘progressed’ from being born with no outward signs of disability to slow deterioration and ultimate death in their mid-teens. As an adult now I can only imagine how this would have devastated my parents.

          How much that contributed to their eventual separation and divorce, I don’t know, but eventually they were granted an annullment after 17 years and 7 children.

          For my father, the one who wanted the annulment, it was a trumatic process. He felted humiliated and ‘invaded’ by it all. I think it is much better now and can actually be healing.

          Like all my brothers, the sudden ripping apart of our family stability when my parents separated was, to put in mildly, ‘formative’. As an adult though, I am glad that they sought to live honest lives rather than a pretend marriage. That honesty endures more significantly than the pain of rupture.

          On that basis and many other ‘life observations’ I have a great respect for people’s efforts at trying to nut out their own moral choices, much more so than those who have not faced them and make rules from ‘on high’.

          • Gareth says:

            Tony,

            Your last line was a cheap shot at the celibacy of priests.

            Which part don’t you understand that as Catholics we believe that the use of artificial contraception offends God greviously and the hierachy that choose to highlight and draw the faithful’s attention to this teaching are doing their honorable thing as pastors of God.

            People that spread the lie otherwise are only kidding themselves that they are a Catholic in good standing.

            • Catherine says:

              Gareth the whole contraception debate is somewhat dodgy in my opinion. People tell us that NFP is very effective if you follow it strictly , so as far as I can see people are thwarting God’s will by only having sex in the woman’s non fertile period. They are still having a contraceptive mentality; they don’t want more kids and are doing the best they can not to produce any more.

            • Gareth says:

              Hi Catherine,

              Thanks for the sincere response.

              I am not sure if I would call discussions within Catholics as ‘dodgy’ but I do take on board some of the points you made.

              At the end of the day though when it comes down to it all, it as simple as the use of artificial contraception is either something not in accordance to God’s will or it is permissible and I have the utmost confidence that it is NOT in God’s plan for mankind.

              I take your point on married couples, but at the end of the day there is a big difference between the two scenarios (ask any married Catholic couple and see the difference in mentalities as well) you suggested – one God permits and one God doesn’t.

              Cathwerine, learn to Trust in God that as hard it as it may be to understand, this is something that the Church has right.

            • Catherine says:

              Gareth
              Really, I have trouble believing that God would be upset if married couples used condoms ( or had vasectomies or tubal ligations) to ensure they didn’t have children. As long as conception does not take place, no life has been destroyed. I know one lady, very devout catholic whose husband had a significant psychiatric illness. She already had four children and was very stressed and highly strung. When her husband was unwell, he would not take no for answer and she felt she could not cope with any more kids so she got her tubes tied. She was aware that this was against Church teaching and discussed this with her priest, And it appears he was a practical fellow and gave her the idea that he was sure God would understand that she did what she felt was the best thing for the whole family.

            • Gareth says:

              Catherine: Really, I have trouble believing that God would be upset if married couples used condoms ( or had vasectomies or tubal ligations) to ensure they didn’t have children.

              Gareth: Well, the constant teaching of the church is that the sex act must be open to the procreation of children at all times and that is what I firmly believe as a Catholic.

              May I suggest reading John Paul II’s Theology of the Body was a modern, beautiful take on the Church’s take on human sexuality and how its teachings add to the diginity of the human person.

            • Catherine says:

              Undoubtedly there are some nice ideals put forward in Theology of the Body, total self giving by both parties in a marriage etc, but if neither party desires more children, if they feel they have all the children they can cope with, it seems fair enough that they take steps to ensure they do not produce any more. I am aware of numerous stories where large families have been produced to the detriment to the parents’ physical and emotional well being and the childrens.

            • Gareth says:

              Ok,

              But like I said, at the end of the day we have to assess whether a certain moral action is permissable to God or not and as Catholics the use of contraception by artifcial means is never right.

            • Tony says:

              Your last line was a cheap shot at the celibacy of priests.

              Only in your eyes, Gareth.

              People that spread the lie otherwise are only kidding themselves that they are a Catholic in good standing.

              Ahem

            • Gareth says:

              Another trick of the Tonster – state ‘only in your eyes’.

              The Tonster needs to get out more…

            • Louise says:

              It is a solemn teaching of the Churh that artificial contraception is gravely immoral and all Catholics are required to believe this and married couples to act on it. It is understandable that a Catholic might not understand this teaching, but in such a case, understanding must be sought.

        • Stephen K says:

          Catherine, I’ve been reading this thread with mixed feelings, mostly dismay. On the one hand, you have said a lot of things which reflect both a sensitivity to the complexity of factors and feelings involved in marriage questions, but your desire and conviction that an approach must be founded somehow consistent with the Church’s official line is also evident. Both reflect well on you, even though I may feel differently about it all. What I respect about your position, insofar as I discern it, is that you can acknowledge the subjective perspective of people in a range of circumstances. That is all one can expect of another.

          By contrast, I find the views of Louise black-white and the views of Gareth too dismissive of such things, as if they themselves have never had to confront or experience the pain and confusion of a breakdown in relationship and the alienation of one’s children and such things. It is invariably difficult if not impossible for people to probe and enter into the minds and hearts of people where there most intimate areas of soul and relations are concerned, and so the dismissal of divorcees as wilful or ignorant or sinful is in my view an unwarranted judgmentalism.

          So, my first comment is simply to pay you credit for your largeness of understanding, even if not agreement or approval, which are your prerogative.

          I won’t comment on the specific topic of annulments, other than to say that I do not understand the subtleties (or so they appear) involved in the whole attitude of the Church to marital matters.

          My second comment is simply to say that this whole area highlights for me the chasm between an attitude that confines legitimacy of life to conformity with a theology on the one hand, and an attitude that can allow life its chaos and turmoil. This thread did not start with marriage, or sex, or such things but the proposition that a call to repentance would bring everyone flocking “home” to the Church. “Home” to the Church means….what? And who has clean hands to do the “calling”? It then somehow segue-ed into the reason why people stay away.

          You know what I think is the main reason people stay away? It is not necessarily that they do not recognise their sinfulness or sinful nature (though some would not), nor that they do not believe in God (again though some would not), nor that they are ignorant (though some don’t appear to reflect much): it is because they see the simplisticity of the Church’s moral articulations, the apparent hypocrisy of its teachers and advocates, and the inconsistencies and history of favouring the influential and establishment by its leaders, and they NO LONGER TRUST OR GIVE IT CREDIBILITY.

          I am bemused by the constant insistence that if only schools, priests, bishops would insist more forcefully on the teaching, then people would not be ignorant and would “come to their senses”, so to speak. Just as the faith which many on this website have derives from a subjectively perceived benefit, or a conviction of objective truth, or an act of trust, so too, is the non-faith of so many derived from similar things or acts….in other things. Teaching in the spirit of judgmentalism will only work with those inculturated and pre-formed in like spirit; John Powell once said something to the effect that the basic thing for a Christian to understand about God was that God was unconditional love: so only unconditional love and acceptance will work, and at the very least it must come first.

          My thesis though is probably not to be directed to you: your posts demonstrate sensitivity. On behalf of the rest of us mortals, sinners, children of God and the cosmos, thank you.

          • Gareth says:

            Stephen: By contrast, I find the views of Louise black-white and the views of Gareth too dismissive of such things, as if they themselves have never had to confront or experience.

            Gareth: Stephen, you don’t know anything about Louise or myself and you certainly do not know if we have ever had to confront or experience such things.

            We probably have experienced such things twice as much as you ever would.

            Get off your high horse.

            • Gareth says:

              Catherine, it wouldnt matter if everyone on the planet used artificial contraception and thought it was fine –

              in GOD’S EYES it is not.

            • Stephen K says:

              Gareth, you’re right: I don’t know anything about you, apart from what you say. But what you say sounds very dismissive and condemnatory – to me – nonetheless. Maybe you are completely different from the way you’ve expressed yourself, and maybe, if I did know you, I’d like you. But I’ll never know.

              But, by the same token, you don’t know me either, so how you can say you’ve had twice the experience beats me just as equally!

              Let’s agree that neither of us knows what experiences we’ve had or not had and leave it at that and that we disagree diametrically about the respective sizes of each other’s horse!

            • catherine says:

              Gareth if you are a “good ” Catholic I would assume you are supposed to accept everything the Church teaches, and not cherry pick. Now, it appears you think annulments are stupid, yet the Church created them and thinks they are ok/valid/necessary, therefore so should you. Do you know better than the Church on this issue?
              You should not be using independent thought, you should just accept it, otherwise you are really no better than an evil sinner like me and ” not a true follower of Christ”

            • catherine says:

              You need to read up on annulments,
              perhps start with http://www.churchannulments.com
              I have already quoted them here on myths about annulments

          • Catherine says:

            Stephen K, I agree with you that the Church’s teachings on some things are too simplistic ( maybe simplistic is not the word, but they are blanket statements covering everyone, no exceptions etc). Some people, like the lady I mentioned who got her tubes tied may leave the Church because they feel that they did the wrong thing, and that would be a very regrettable state of affairs.

            This discussion is about why people may choose not to return to the Church, but as a woman, if I were not raised a Catholic, I doubt I would choose to join a CHurch that was so rigid on the issue of contraception.
            Being single, I m not confronted with these issues directly myself, but If I were, I am sure I would disobey Church teaching and do what I considered best for myself, my marriage and any existing children. People today are more educated and less likely to “pay, pray and obey” without question so to me it seems unlikely we will return to the days where Catholic families had 10 children.

            • Gareth says:

              So what do you want the Church to do Catherine, approve something that is evil in God’s eyes just because a few members can’t live up to ideals?

              God is above that – we change for Him, not vice-versa.

            • Catherine says:

              Gareth, as I mentioned earlier, although I have read why the Church opposes the use of contraception as I cannot be convinced that using barrier methods of contraception and/or sterilisation is evil, if both parties in a marriage wish to do so. Any form of contraception that is abortifacient I can see a point to forbidding, but if conception never takes place no life been destroyed.
              You say “a few members can’t live up to ideals” but the practising Catholics I know of Generation X are all using contraception of one form or another and for various reasons. One has only to look around at mass to see that most families are two or three children at most. A well instructed Catholic may be married to a poorly instructed Catholic, and go along with what their partner wants for the sake of marital harmony ( and if finances are tight, or the woman has had problematic pregnancies, it would be even more difficult for the informed Catholic to take the official Church stance). Many catholics are now married to non Catholics and in an age of instant gratification, ” Not tonight dear, we are sure to get pregnant”, would not be popular response.

            • Tony says:

              There is a sense in which ‘simplistic’ is the right word, Catherine, and that’d best illustrated in a term like ‘natural’.

              Somehow NFP is more ‘natural’ than, say, a condom.

              I remember when the Billings method was first being heavily pushed in the 70s. But Billings was designed to help women become pregnant.

              If, as you say, you use Billings or any other, so called, ‘natural’ method to not have children it’s just as ‘contaceptive’ as any other.

              Trouble is, these methods are a bit of a lottery. They work well for some and not for others (even without considering how couples deal with the contrived sex life!).

              (Just in case Gareth seeks to misrepresent what I say: I’m all for ‘natural’ methods. In fact, I suspect one of the unintended consequences of the church being so strongly associated with these methods is that they are not given their due as a possible solution for every married couple.)

            • Gareth says:

              Tony: If, as you say, you use Billings or any other, so called, ‘natural’ method to not have children it’s just as ‘contaceptive’ as any other.

              Gareth: Did God design condoms? No

              Did God design the fertility patterns of humans? Yes.

              Your claim that natural family planning is just as contraceptive as artificial means defeats the purpose that those that use nfp do not see children as a burden and not to mention practise strict discipline, something the contraceptive couple are too lazy to do.

            • Louise says:

              even without considering how couples deal with the contrived sex life

              I would have thought that sticking a condom on one’s dick in the middle of a sexual encounter was pretty contrived! (To say nothing of the sensation of latex on one’s genitals as opposed to flesh).

            • Louise says:

              They work well for some and not for others

              And in many cases the pill redues a woman’s sex drive, so… looks like there are disadvantages of one sort or another with every method of family planning. To speak of artificial contraception as being somehow better than nfp or no family planning at all is pretty simplistic.

            • Louise says:

              Although I am myself very much in agreement with the Church on this subject, I can actually sympathise with people who don’t “get it.” I agree that the church’s teaching *seems* really weird. It’s just that, as it happens, the Church’s teaching is very sane and a contraceptive mentality is weird. But that’s just not obvious to people who have been brought up with pretty anti-fertile sentiments.

            • catherine says:

              Louise: “”It is a solemn teaching of the Churh that artificial contraception is gravely immoral and all Catholics are required to believe this and married couples to act on it.””
              Years ago I was giving Bishop Pell ( now Cardinal Pell) my thoughts on the contraception issue and he indicated that it was not an infallible teaching of the Church. Now I know most teachings of the Catholic Church are not labelled infallible but we believe it anyway, however it is interesting that the question of contraception was not declared to be infallible given its importance and the amount of flak there has been over it. to my mind, if contraception is that terrible, why is not declared an infallible teaching? It really just encourages me to dissent when it is not declared to be an infallible teaching. Limbo has gone, you can eat meat on fridays now, wait long enough and a Pope will say barrier methods of contraception are ok:)

            • Louise says:

              Years ago I was giving Bishop Pell ( now Cardinal Pell) my thoughts on the contraception issue and he indicated that it was not an infallible teaching of the Church. Now I know most teachings of the Catholic Church are not labelled infallible

              I said it was the solemn teaching of the Church and I will now go and check to see whether that is the case. AFAIK “solemn teaching” might not be the same as “infallible teaching.”
              Also, Cardinal Pell might be wrong on that point.

              Either way, the *discipline* of not eating meat on Friday is not to be compared with the 2000 moral teaching that contraception is always wrong.

              I don’t see why this teaching has to be declared infallible, when it has 2000 years of tradition behind it, as well as sound reasoning. Consider which teachings this would be placing anti-birth control on a par with!

              I cannot believe *anyone* would want to use condoms. :)

            • Tony says:

              I would have thought that sticking a condom on one’s dick in the middle of a sexual encounter was pretty contrived! (To say nothing of the sensation of latex on one’s genitals as opposed to flesh).

              You’re probably right, but I guess it depends what you compare it to and how your assessment of risk impinges on your spontaneity. Different people in different circumstances would come up with different answers.

            • Tony says:

              Gareth: Did God design condoms? No
              Did God design the fertility patterns of humans? Yes.

              It’s a very limited way of looking at what is ‘natural’ though. By the same logic, God ‘designed’ poisonous snakes but didn’t ‘design’ antidotes and injections.

              God gave us the intelligence to work out certain things about human reproduction. It wasn’t handed to us on a plate. God also gave us the intelligence to make other forms of contraception.

            • catherine says:

              Louise I would say The Family Law Act weakened marriage, not the annulments. Most people I know did not leave their marriages with a view to getting an annulment and getting remarried in the Catholic Church. The unfaithful partners werent worrying about ‘their affairs being sinful, so the availability of so called ëasy” annulments were not making leaving their marriage more attractive.
              I do not know the statistics but in the people of my acquaintance I would say most annulments are sought by the people who are abandoned (not the abandoners)

            • Louise says:

              Catherine, you may be right about more annulments being sought by the abandoned, but I hope you will allow that if annulments are made easier, rather than harder, then other groups of people will suffer more, so let’s keep our compassion open to everyone.

              I agree that it was the no-fault divorce laws which have done the real damage. Unfortunately, if you add easy annulments to this, then in practical terms annulment really just becomes catholic-divorce.

            • Louise says:

              Different people in different circumstances would come up with different answers.

              Indeed, but my point was to show that each “answer” is likely to have its own problems and to take the line as so many so that contraception is a good thing or convenient thing or responsible thing or merely “the thing to do” then this is facile. And when we are honest about the real difficulties which various forms of contraception entail, and the various risks they present, we begin to see that the Church’s position is not as far fetched as is generally believed.

              To put it differently, I think we may discover that the “lived experience” of many people who use contraception is not as great as it’s generally cracked up to be.

          • Louise says:

            By contrast, I find the views of Louise black-white and the views of Gareth too dismissive of such things, as if they themselves have never had to confront or experience the pain and confusion of a breakdown in relationship and the alienation of one’s children and such things.

            If you actually knew me, Stephen, you would know that I have suffered a very great deal, very personally on this topic. I’m surprised you can’t tell.

            • Stephen K says:

              No, Louise, unfortunately what you say was not so obvious that I would have discerned it from your postings. I accept however that you’ve suffered personally.

            • Gareth says:

              I like your work Stevie

            • Louise says:

              Well, why would you assume that I have not suffered in this regard? Because I have not left my husband and have not asked for an annulment? Your charge of “judgmentalism” implies that there is only one set of people who are entitled to compassion – namely those who can no longer be bothered being married to the person they chose and now want to try with someone else. What about the children of such persons? What of their sufferings? What about compassion for them? What about deserted spouses? who cares about them? Why should we only have “compassion” for the people who want to ditch their spouse in favour of someone else? Why can you not see that the *point* of all my posts here is very real pain? Why do you have the high moral ground?

            • Louise says:

              There is nothing inherently wrong with “black and white thinking.” Besides, thinking there is something wrong with it is an absolute anyway! But there are some absolutes. Black and white thinking is not appropriate for such things as housework, or which maths curriculum to choose for your kids, but it’s appropriate when dealing with properly moral issues.

            • catherine says:

              We do have compassion for the ditched spouses. Many of my friends who have annulments were ditched by their spouses. Their spouses ditched them to run off with someone else but it was not the unfaithful spouses ( but the deserted partners that sought the annulments). The deserters didnt give a toss about getting annulment sot the possibility of getting an annulment in no way contributed to them exiting the marriage.

            • Louise says:

              In your example, Catherine, the ditched spouse is seeking an annulment. But there are many other situations in which the unfaithful/deserting spouse seeks an annulment. Either way, the problem is that easy annulments and no-fault divore combined have served to weaken the marriage bond between all couples, especially sociologically. Consider, these days, the minute a spouse leaves, both are seen as “single,” when in fact they are both still married legally, and often saramentally. This is absurd. And deserting spouses who then have the audacity to conduct a very public adulterous affair are merely seen as having “repartnered.” Tell me this isn’t a huge blow to marriage and the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

          • Louise says:

            so the dismissal of divorcees as wilful or ignorant or sinful is in my view an unwarranted judgmentalism.

            Not sure that I did this, actually. Apart from anything else, there are divorcees and divorcees. In our current system, a deserted spouse can be divorced for no reason whatever, so it seems that perhaps as many as half of all divorcees are likely to be divorcees against their will.

          • Louise says:

            BTW Stephen, all my previous remarks would be just as valid even if I had never personally suffered from marriage separation issues. I mean, what difference – logically – does this make to my reasoning?

            It’s pretty simple, really. Either marriage is important and needs to be heavily protected, or it’s not. If the Church is still serious about protecting the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, then it needs to revise some of its revisions and tighten things up considerably.

            I’m aware that sometimes we can stick to the letter of the law and ignore the spirit of the law, but really, where the letter of the law is wishy washy, then there’s no room for either justice or mercy, it seems to me.

            • Stephen K says:

              I don’t know how to do what others do, italicising the relevant extracts of the posts to which one wishes to explicitly respond, so I’ll just put them in inverted commas. I’m only replying for the sake of acknowledging your own comments.

              Louise, you say “why would you assume that I have not suffered in this regard?”
              It’s true; on reflection, the comments you made, your proposition that annulments be made more difficult, that marriage be less readily allowed etc. could just as understandably be made by a person who has suffered as by one who hadn’t. I accept your rebuke. It was projection and sweeping assumption on my part. I hope other posters are also reading this and also take stock of the widespread tendency amongst many to make similar errors. If that occurs, your remonstration will have done doubly good.

              You say “Your charge of ‘judgmentalism’ implies that there is only one set of people who are entitled to compassion – namely those who can no longer be bothered being “married to the person they chose and now want to try with someone else.”

              I can see how you would have read this, but as a matter of logic, that is not strictly true. I naturally assumed – you will have to take my word for it – that you would have had compassion, maybe even stronger feelings, for the other persons involved. Thus my charge of judgmentalism was really much more basic than that, for if you read on you will see that I also said that it was invariably difficult or impossible to discern what was in the mind of anyone etc. To reduce the action of the leaver to simple motives I think overreaches what is possible to know to all except the spouse, and even there, the question still remains, why and what was in the leaver that brought them to that point? As I said earlier, it was not obvious to me that you might have been speaking from personal experience: you didn’t, in the beginning, say so. And, in the light of your question, even now I won’t make any assumption as to just what your experience is. Besides you don‘t have to tell me and I’m not asking.

              You say “What about the children of such persons? What of their sufferings? What about compassion for them? What about deserted spouses? Who cares about them?”

              You’re right: they suffer, need compassion and care. No argument there. But the rift once done, there is often no going back, and so the demands of love, justice and all other such things have to often be worked out with this as a new fact and circumstance.

              You say “Why can you not see that the *point* of all my posts here is very real pain?”

              I’ve already said I didn’t discern this. I’m genuinely sorry you feel real pain. That doesn’t mean I have to agree with your prescriptions for solutions.

              You say “Why do you have the high moral ground?” Louise, we all take the high moral ground in blogsite disputes. But I only took (or intended to take) the high moral ground in decrying anyone else taking the high moral ground. Yes, I know it’s circular, and so I withdraw any claims to the high moral ground, on anything. I hope others do likewise.

              You say “BTW Stephen, all my previous remarks would be just as valid even if I had never personally suffered from marriage separation issues. I mean, what difference – logically – does this make to my reasoning?”

              I think you’re partly right: your arguments could stand or fall whether you had had personal separation issues or not; the same applies to me. It might only mean though that they were coherent, not that they were right, or at least not right in the same sense, that we would agree. I might agree with you that the concept or practice of annulments be scrapped or revised drastically, or that marriage be refused to people who do not prima facie have demonstrable awareness or maturity, but I might conclude that it is also unrealistic to do so on the one hand but expect at the same time young people to remain sexually non-active while they mature in ways – as yet untried and undetermined – that would show they can cope with the realities of life-long monogamy, nuclear parenthood etc. This was the point of my post, really, to assert the many pressures and facets involved that, to my thinking at least, did not appear taken into account.

              Finally, you say “I’m aware that sometimes we can stick to the letter of the law and ignore the spirit of the law”.

              There are always going to be arguments about what is spirit and what is letter, and where is the line of difference. I simply re-iterate my citation of John Powell.

              My final comment is this: the thread started on the theme of trying to get Catholics back. Maybe those who think that most people leave or become disenchanted with the church because they don’t want to follow its moral code or don’t understand it, are right in some cases. I don’t think this is the answer.
              Somehow we got onto the painful subject of marital disintegration and everything that goes with it. Maybe that’s because it lurks darkly just beneath the surface for lots of us. Let’s leave this subject, with all its thorniness and wounds. I don’t want to add to your pain.

            • Louise says:

              Thankyou, for your reply, Stephen, it was very gracious.

              Actually, while I agree that we cannot know why people leave their spouse in every case, we do know why many people leave and those reasons are often essentially trivial when compared with the devastation which seperation invariably causes. This happens too often to ignore it, although obviously, we often cannot know the details in specific cases.

              As it happens, however, there is a great deal that can be done to restore the marriage, it’s just that most of us (myself as well, until recently) believe the lie that once there is a break in the marriage it is irretrievable. This is simply not so.

              The question of justice wrt to annulments has to do mostly with not wanting to “make” the children illegitimate and reduce the marriage to mere concubinage. Neither of these matters in the modern world very much, as such, but it is a grave injustice to a woman who believed she was (and probably really was) a married woman, whose union was protected by the Church, but who now finds herself with an unfaithful husband and perhaps several children (I know a few women in this exact circumstane) and whose woes have been reduced to “oh well, just find yourself a new man” and here’s salt in the wound; “your marriage was never a marriage in the first place, so just get over it.”

              She has to put up with this, I say, while her unfaithful husband spreads lies about her and how she was a bad wife etc. Remember, his perspective is only one interpretation of reality and may be outright lies, or distorted thinking b/c he wants to justify his shabby actions to himself and others.

            • Louise says:

              I’m genuinely sorry you feel real pain. That doesn’t mean I have to agree with your prescriptions for solutions.

              No, of course you don’t and I don’t expect anyone to agree with me merely b/c I feel pain. That would be arguing like any modern day activist we read in the papers!

            • Louise says:

              I will only say as a final word to you, since you don’t wish to continue the discussion, that I do not necessarily think that every marriage break-up happens for trivial reasons. I only note that it is well known (from studies and anecdotally) that these days, it is very often the case.

            • catherine says:

              Hi Louise
              Well, I would never consider children whose parents got an annulment “Illegitimate” and the marriage tribunal makes it clear that that is not the case. Of course the people were legally married , so the children are “legitimate”. The question is whether it was a sacramental marriage.
              I would hope by the time children are old enough to understand the nature of annulments, they have a reasonable understanding of the nature of their parents. When I look at friends who are divorced through the bad behaviour of their spouse, ie desertion, I reckon their children, will agree that their parents should never have got married in the first place because of the very obvious defective thinking of one of their parents. Some spouses rampant immaturity/selfishness/self centredness/ personality disordered behaviour is so evident blind Freddy can see it and kids can work out that Mum or Dad was not cut out for marriage

            • Louise says:

              When I look at friends who are divorced through the bad behaviour of their spouse, ie desertion, I reckon their children, will agree that their parents should never have got married in the first place because of the very obvious defective thinking of one of their parents.

              I seriously doubt that, Catherine, and I speak as a child of divorce.

              Furthermore, the illegitimacy refers to canon law. I believe it used to be the case that illegitimate children could not be admitted to holy orders without a dispensation. Maybe it still is.

            • Louise says:

              Speaking personally, I wish my parents had just “sucked it up.”

            • Gareth says:

              Catherine: Well, I would never consider children whose parents got an annulment “Illegitimate” and the marriage tribunal makes it clear that that is not the case.

              Gareth: That single sentence alone proves the STUPIDITY of annulnments.

              If one was not married to begin with in the Church’s eyes, how can they produce legitimate children???????????????

              No-wonder so-many people laugh at the Catholic Church.

              P.S Those that reject the Church’s teaching on artificial contraception are not true followers of Christ.

            • catherine says:

              Catholic Annulment Preparation Services Divorce and Remarriage in the Catholic Church COMMON MYTHSHome
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              FORGET WHAT YOUR GREAT AUNT TOLD YOU!

              10 Common Myths about Catholic annulments:

              Myth #1: A divorced person automatically receives excommunication.

              False. Divorce is a function of the civil law and secular courts. It’s a myth that a divorced Catholic is “excommunicated,” and not able to receive the sacraments within the Church. This is because the Church still considers you married–even if you are no longer living with your spouse.

              Myth #2: You have to be wealthy to afford an annulment.

              Some people are afraid the process costs thousands of dollars. Not true. In fact no one is ever turned away from applying for an annulment because of his or her inability to pay a fee.

              Myth #3: The Church makes money from annulments.

              There are court costs associated with the processing of an annulment. The cost is not a donation to the Church; rather, it is a fee for services rendered. The moneys support the operation of the tribunal, i.e., salaries, office supplies and building expenses. Some United States dioceses do not charge any fees. In these places the diocese fully subsidizes its tribunal.

              Myth #4: Your children will become illegitimate.

              Many parents are often confused about the legitimacy of their children in church law should an annulment be granted. This should not be a concern. At the time of the child’s birth, the parents were legally presumed to be husband and wife. So at the moment of the child’s birth legitimacy was established. An annulment DOES NOT retroactively affect a child’s legitimacy. They remain legitimate in church law.

              Myth #5: Your ex-spouse has to agree to it.

              It’s a myth that both spouses have to agree to a Catholic annulment. Tribunal judges can grant an annulment even if the ex-spouse is against the idea of an annulment.

            • Gareth says:

              That is the line the annulnment offices spins but pure common sense could tell you Catherine that a unmarried couple can not bear a legitimate child.

            • Louise says:

              From what I’ve read, traditionally the Church taught that an annulment did indeed make the children illegitimate in canon law. So, the idea that they are not made so, sounds like modern spin to me and just one of the many bad things to have happened since V2.

              Making children illegitimate, AFAIK, is presumably one of the many reasons annulments used to be given out so rarely.

            • Schütz says:

              I’d like to see some evidence of that, Louise. It most certainly and emphatically is not the case now. It isn’t just “spin”, its canonical, as far as I know.

  16. matthias says:

    That last crack by Gareth is what i was referring to re a history between Tony and Gareth. I just thought it was good natured but the put down was obvious in “Tony wastes 15 minutes ….” . Come Gareth show some Christian charity and Tony no retorts.

  17. matthias says:

    yes Tony i thought so. it seems you and gareth bounce off each other awkwardly in the same manner that I and a fellow going under the name of Wolsey did over at another blog.

  18. Paul G says:

    Most of the comments on this blog posts have been “in-house” arguments about Fr Hodgens and other subjects.
    However, the original story included the website CatholicsComeHome, which is an attempt to present the message of the Gospel.
    I just read another blog post on the subject of discipleship at:
    http://is.gd/5eyQwV
    This makes the point that cultural Catholicism is dying, and most people have no idea what Catholicism or Christianity is, apart from having something to do with Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. From what I have seen of the CCH website, it is an attempt at looking outwards, and a well designed one.

    As far as cultural Catholicism is concerned, I know several people who were “brought up” Catholic, but complain that a nun was rude to them once and use that as the justification for leaving the Church and waging a war of passive resistance against the Church. These people (who are mostly well intentioned and very responsible), now are grandparents, and their grandchildren have no idea at all about the Church and never will unless someone takes the trouble to tell them.

  19. adam george says:

    Appro the whole debate here two quite interesting things happened at the Pope’s weekly audience Wednesday in Rome.
    1. The pontiff spoke of the value of prayer and how it is not time wasted. Never is. Time given to God in prayer is always rewarded over and over again. St Teresa of Avila was the pope’s inspiration yesterday. But we see this in the lives of all the saints. They were men and women of prayer and took time to be alone to listen to the Lord speaking to their hearts. Many into the deep hours of the night. And John Paul II also spent hours in prayer night and day. There are many stories of him locking himself in his private chapel in Cracow and lying prostrate on the floor and praying. And this is the man that EH has reviled!!!!
    2. Yesterday in the middle of the audience a young boy, maybe 5 or 6 ran up from the huge crowd and towards the pope. He stood there and spoke with the pontiff and Benedict spoke to him. I immediately wondered on how conscious of danger we have all become now in this world and how security is so tight around the pope. But a child runs up and speaks to the pope. Have we forgotten the words of Christ,’Let the chidlren come to me’. But even that is hard today. We need that child-like love of the Lord and while the security must have been alarmed, the boy showed that excitement at running to meet the pope. I have seen that many times of late for the present and preveious pope. EH attacked the ‘personality cult’ of JP II. |What rubbish – the people can get as excited as they want around a pope. Millions and millions of youth around the globe flocked to hear JPII and will do so again on May 1 in Rome.
    Just tragic, sad and negative that EH spends his time attacking someone millions of Catholics and non-Catholics found hope and inspiration in who changed their lives for good.
    Pax

    • Tony says:

      1. While I take no issue with what you say about prayer, it seems to me that if you take Jesus’ ministry as your yardstick, much time was spent with people. It is clear that he spent some time in prayer, but it doesn’t seem to be a dominant feature of his recorded life. Some people are great prayers, others are great doers. We all find the balance that suits us, I guess.

      2. The dangers of personality cults can’t just be dismissed in my view. Again, Jesus was pretty ambivalent about adoring crowds. He was probably at the height of his popularity on Palm Sunday and we know what followed. I’m not sure if PJPII and PB16 (esp PJPII) have the balance right, but it’s something to be aware of. The Pope is the ‘servant of the servants’ not a rock star.

      The judgement about PJPII is not if he was a good guy or a good leader or a well-known Pope or a long-lived Pope or whatever, it’s about his sanctity. That requires a rigourous examination of the good and bad side of his personality.

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