Monday, 31 December 2007

Comment for the end of the year

The recent news that the hierarchy of England and Wales is after the head of Damien Thompson, Editor in Chief of the Catholic Herald, is of great concern. A hierarchy that has done nothing to censure the notoriously dissident and heterodox Tablet, but is trying to silence the editor of a paper that has been upholding the magisterium, as well as trying to have him removed from the Telegraph, speaks volumes.

What is coming apparent from this shameful episode is that the only thing that those who hold the levers of power in the English church really fear is consistent pressure and criticism from the laity. Without it, they can conveniently ignore the Holy Father and carry on as if he did not exist.

For the reality is is that Rome is not in a position to deal with the dissent, compromise and corruption that has infected the upper ranks of the ecclesiastical bureaucracy. The elites at Eccleston Square have too many powerful allies in the curia for anything to be done about them. It is not a coincidence that Archbishop Piero Marini, the former papal MC, chose to launch his book about the liturgical reform in Archbishop's house in Westminster.

Among the rank and file of the English clergy are some really first rate pastors and intellectuals, young, old and middle aged, who are faithful to their vocations and truly live up to the expectations of the Good Shepherd himself. Alas, they will never be made bishops with the present status quo, and despite the fact England is producing some of the world’s leading Catholic theologians, not one of our present hierarchy has any intellectual stature.

It is essential for the status quo to have a relatively docile and 'sheepish' laity, and a Catholic press that repeats platitudes that all is well and the church is undergoing great renewal. It may be easy to deal with Rome, but a revolt in the pews is another matter. Damien Thompson's open criticism of the hierarchy may not be entirely just, but it is clear that it is a serious threat to the powers that be, for it is causing discontent among the faithful, and must be silenced.

St. Thomas Aquinas has said "When the faith is in imminent peril, prelates ought to be accused by their subjects, even in public." We are only bound to the obedience and submission of our pastors insofar as they uphold the tradition, faith and magisterium of the church, as given by the successor of Peter. Should they fail to do this, their authority ceases to that of Christ, but of themselves. Before they can demand our obedience, we must demand their submission to Peter.

As this year draws to a close, the future of the English church lies in the hands not of its bishops, nor of Rome, but of its laity. It is imperative that we make a stand against dissent and compromise, demand that our shepherds feed the flocks entrusted to their care, and give us the rights given in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. The development of the internet and blogging has given us a great opportunity to break our silence: let us take full advantage of it. Otherwise we may find the church in this island of saints doomed to extinction.


Anonymous said...

Brilliant Oliver!

Matt Doyle said...

Well said Oliver. You touch on the internal politics of the English Catholic Church: it may be your head next!

Anonymous said...

Hmmm! Interesting take, Oliver! We stand up to dissent by dissenting against the dissenters.

All we can really do is wait and pray.

If the bishops really are trying to knife Thompson, in stead of refuting the (sometimes quite outrageous) claims he makes, then it is only a sign of how morally bankrupt they have become. Everyone will see their attempt to silence him as the silly would-be-Soviet tactic it is.

Oliver Hayes said...

It is right to describe some of the claims of Damien Thompson as outrageous, like for his example his proposterous claim that George Pell may be in for the see of Westminster. I have said his criticisms are not entirely just, but nevertheless it is a Godsend that he is blowing the cover off the rot in the English chruch.

On the side of the angels said...

Oh Oliver M - please ! just because we're not all fascists with a small f - one of these days you're going to realise that Our Lady was not called Margaret, did not have a blonde backcombed blow wave , a blue suit and a handbag.
The pell stunt was sad, but it led to a lot of discussions - his Conry attack was felt justified because he'd been a friend of Damian's for a long time - and to go all Henry V - his betrayal felt 'like another fall of man'.
A lot of the anger vented at Damian is not exactly what he has said, but what others have said on his blog with a lot more force [I include myself among the guilty] and I feel somewhat disturbed that Damian is taking a lot of the flak for giving us an arena to let rip. I hate to jump to conclusions but isn't it a little more than a coincidence that the moment 'Tony' turns up the screws are turned against Mr Thompson?
There are a few priests in the faith movement doing their bit on the blogosphere but apart from that whom do we have amongst the professionals ? We have nobody but enthusiastic lay bloggers.
Apart from Damian, who else do we really have a a central blog for news and discusssions ?
They wish to silence Damian for a multitude of reasons...but Matt's right ; you be careful - I can afford to shout my mouth off because I'm only a shelf-stacker; a few of my friends can say nothing out of fear for their positions...

Anonymous said...

Well done, OtSotA! You've got yourself a link on my blog.

I'm not quite sure of what I'm being accused. I think what I meant to say was that any attack by the bishops on Thompson or his blog will be completely counter-productive. I also accused them of being morally bankrupt. What more do you want.

As for Our Lady's dress sense...

'Lovely Lady dressed in blue -
Teach me how to pray!
God was just your little boy,
Tell me what to say!'

Anonymous said...

Sure but someone's got to speak up even the shelf-stackers!