Fatherhood

Kieran left it two whole days after Benedict XVI's resignation to tell him 
how wrong he was. Thank you, Kieran, for showing us how right he was.
I fear that the Kieran Conry saga will rumble on for a while but I must say that as far as timing goes, while it is true to say that their arguments for the liberalisation of clerical celibacy do not add up, the Conry scandal could not come at a worse time for the Church at a time of doubt.

The Synod on the Family is now fast approaching and it is likely that the scandal will overshadow parts of it. The Tablet are already spuriously claiming that Kieran (as we can now call him and as he always wanted to be called) was tripped up by tradition rather than his trousers. Presumably, if Kieran Conry was a Catholic husband unable to remain faithful to one spouse in a lifelong marriage, exclusive of all others, by not maintaining his marital vows and by getting unwisely involved, in some way, with someone else's wife, he would then too be a victim of 'oppressive tradition'. God forbid that morality should impede us from having our fun or creating havoc in the lives of others!

A prelate who has now become notorious within the breast of the Church which has looked after him very kindly throughout his ecclesiastical career, even if the said prelate decided that genuine repentance was not for him and whose dismal view of the Sacrament of Confession gives a pretty sad insight into his own 'struggle' with celibacy, says now that no Bishop in the English Conference 'knew' of his behaviour, because we are assured that if they had known, they would have 'said something' to him or to others. Yet it has to be said that this man's double life and long-term 'living a lie' lifestyle might very well cast doubt on the veracity of his recent statement that 'nobody knew'. As one of his former children, though I'm not really convinced Kieran thought of himself as a Father in any spiritual sense of the word, I no longer trust what he says.

Thorn in the side of the Bishops: Why do they always shoot 
the messengers instead of accepting the message? 
Browsing the Protect the Pope blog from a while back, in terms of Kieran's career, it became clear that Kieran thought it would really be best if Rome was less powerful and the local Church in terms of Dioceses were given more independence to do as they see fit. This would make life for priests and bishops 'easier' in his understanding. Yet, it appears that persons in great authority in Rome left Bishop Kieran to do much as he pleased, apart from some interference when, for example, he made scandalous suggestions regarding the Sacrament of Penance ('its pointless going back with the same list' - read: if you don't take a list) and evangelisation ('you cannot talk to young people about salvation').

One cannot help wondering whether he could not talk to young people about salvation because he didn't really believe in it, but then that became clearer and clearer over the course of the years regardless of what was going on in his personal life. One assumes the best of Churchmen - indeed of everyone - so when a Bishop doesn't genuflect towards the Tabernacle, or derides Marian devotion, or fails to teach the Magisterium, one doesn't automatically assume he's having it away with someone else's wife or something. It is only in the light of this nuclear explosion and its fallout that more of his antipathy towards the Catholic Faith - what we really believe - makes a great deal more sense.

Dr Joseph Shaw and others have highlighted the problem when Bishops do not teach on matters sexual, that it begins to cast questions over whether their position and faith is compromised by their personal life and lack of discipline in this area. Unfortunately, when Dr Joseph's logic is followed to its logical conclusion, question marks would then arise over most Bishops, as well as priests, in England and Wales, for whom the Church's teaching in this area is presumably some kind of public embarrassment. Even His Holiness himself has very little, if anything at all, to say about the Church's teaching on sexual morality.

That doesn't mean the Pope has a mistress but it would suggest that, for some reason which is never made explicitly clear, so many Bishops seem to have a problem in this area, not necessarily in their personal life, but in terms of what they actually believe and we simply have to trust that what they believe and teach has not been compromised by what they do. Oh, how much we trust them. Forgive me, then, if I am becoming more cynical with each blow to the Faithful.

We see in the case of Kieran Conry that this whole idea that sex and sexuality is not very important and that justice and peace is much more important is a total fiction. There is neither justice, nor peace, for a husband whose family is broken up because of what he alleges is adultery, nor for his children. If sex and sexuality are not important areas of Church teaching, why does one family lay in ruins and why is the faith of a whole Diocese and that of others made more fragile and more shaky because of a Bishop's actions? A Diocese has just been truly decapitated and the body runs around aimlessly wondering what is going on but still, apparently, 'justice and peace' is what's really important!

I am getting pretty annoyed by the whole notion that, for priests, celibacy should be dropped because it is impossible to demand from them celibacy - that marriage would lift the 'burden' from them of loving the Lord alone - of, you know, offering themselves to God - that marriage is in some way 'easier' and more 'humane' than the vocation to celibacy in the priesthood. Statistics, both within and without the Church, would suggest that a great many marriages fail. One in three? One in two? What is the rate of breakdown in the Church? This is the very reason why the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops is, we are told, meeting. So many Catholic marriages, it seems, fail. Each break-up is a tragedy that God never wills for His children!

We need a Eucharistic safeguarding team 
While this Bishop was embracing the world, the whole Church has been doing so as well, very well indeed, with Catholic families breaking up, infidelity and divorce a common feature of the Church's laity, with adultery, we are assured one, of the chief reasons for family break-up, divorce and even remarriage, contrary to Christ's commandments. Artificial contraception doubtless feeds into this whole dynamic as well, so let's not pretend that is another area of teaching that is simply to be discarded as 'unimportant'. Whatever you are doing in the Church, priest or layman it is not easy, it always involves the Cross and if it does not involve the Cross in some sense then you are probably living for yourself, not Christ. That's a hard truth but its the truth. How much easier it is to suggest that Christianity is 'all about the community'. Much easier to say that, than it is to contemplate my relationship with God and wonder whether I serve Him, or the Devil. Of course, it is unlikely our bishops actually believe in the Devil either, the Father of lies and deceit.

What possible reason do liberals have for thinking that a prelate or a priest who is unable to fulfill his vows before God in celibacy will be able to fulfill vows in marriage, which calls for lifelong monogamy, huge self-sacrifice and self-denial, total commitment to one's spouse, prayer, devotion, charity and not a small dose of heroism. I know because I, and presumably priests, see this heroism with their own eyes in their own parishes! It is not uncommon at all. So, too, do I see the heroism and witness of single persons who, I am inclined to believe, are not jumping in to bed with every Tom, Dick and Henrietta they meet, even if there are some who do.

It takes love, self-sacrifice and labour to make a happy and loving family.
I expect that most Bishops, who act and live as playboys, could not do it.
What possible reason do liberals have for thinking that an unfaithful bishop would have made a faithful husband? There are plenty of self-serving, selfish, unfaithful, adulterous, awful husbands in the world and in the Church. Both the experience of the Church and the world tells us plainly that marriage is no easy option, unless, of course, we liberalise our view of marriage to deny the traditional concepts of what it is: an exclusive, lifelong union between one man and one woman.

The worst insult this whole idea that tradition caused this bishop to stumble sends to the Catholic laity and to the world is that the real sacrifices made by ordinary women and men for Jesus Christ, in the single life, in family life, those who simply follow Christ and try to obey his teachings, who love Jesus Christ, are impossible and unnatural and should be abandoned. What an insult that is to ordinary men and women in the Church who do not have the authority and power bishops have to use, or abuse, but who as 'little ones' of Jesus Christ and of Mary, ever Virgin, do something that liberals say is 'beyond' bishops and priests - remain faithful to Jesus Christ! That which is exemplified in the lives of many of the laity is not beyond a Bishop, unless, of course, he does not believe, does not pray and does not avail himself of the grace Jesus Christ wants to lavish upon his children, especially through the Sacraments and the maternal intercession of His Most Blessed Mother.

Arundel Cathedral
Pray for a Father in God and a Shepherd for the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton and please understand, dear readers, that I am not desirous to rake over this man's personal life and castigate him for his weakness, God knows how weak and sinful I am, but see, in this particular instance, a microcosm of the crisis in Faith and especially of Bishops afflicting the Catholic Church in England and beyond.

What idiot told Kieran Conry, a man who the laity can no longer trust, to tell us that the other bishops 'never knew' what was going on? Surely it should be left to another bishop, perhaps the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster or the Emeritus of the See, whose reputations and credibility for truth telling are not yet publicly in tatters, to tell us that! Why can he and especially the still deeply influential retired prelate who got Kieran appointed in the first place, not say it for themselves?

Thank you, Kieran, for assuring us that nobody else among the Bishops Conference knew. Now, please can we hear that from the other Bishops themselves, and from Rome who, with all its 'centralised power' and lack of regard for the 'local autonomy of the dioceses around the world' was, apparently, completely 'in the dark' because I'm growing more and more cynical about the Hierarchy, both locally and in Rome, by the day and hour. For that, you can thank, dear Kieran, yourself and your brother Bishops who have consistently, wantonly, willfully neglected to teach that which was entrusted you to teach: the Catholic Faith!

What an age we live in, when ordinary lay folk who will never confect the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, held daily by the hands of ordained ministers, have to tell Church 'personnel' in the highest places in the Catholic Church, that they do not live up their 'job specification', because presumably they never read the 'job specification' in the first place. Of course children need and deserve protection, rightly so, but if only - if only - the Most Holy Eucharist and indeed faith of the Mystical Body of Christ that is the baptised faithful had a Diocesan department for safeguarding and protection!  I don't expect this to be an idea that emerges from the Synod though. Let the Hierarchy in Rome and in England know and understand, many laity and many clergy are not going to be duped. A Bishop in England has opened our eyes to the truth that a priest or a bishop who lives and acts as a playboy will sadly not make a good husband and father. Thanks to him, that's one popular liberal notion we can now comprehensively dismiss!

Comments

Anonymous said…
Well said!

God Bless,

Patrick.

Physiocrat said…
I wonder whether the "bish" was rolling his trousers from the ankles as well from his flies?

Between him and his predecessor, how many souls were lost in the diocese?
Mummymayhem said…
This is not the biggest scandal. There is the ongoing scandal of useless catholic schools, fluffy sacramental preparation, widespread heresy, taught, implied or omitted, failure to preach on sin, lack of awareness of sin , awful litugical abuses etc etc. This is the scandal that has been going on for years and years and has caused the loss of so many souls. This Bishops actions are merely a symptom of a larger problem across many dioceses.
Joe Potillor said…
I agree with Mummymayhem, this is but a symptom of a larger problem, but very well said as always.
Lynda said…
They are inextricably linked.
Andrew said…
The question to all answers and the answer to all questions:

why is The Tablet still available for sale at the back of almost every church in England and Wales?
Jacobi said…
A most thoughtful and helpful reflection “Bones”. Thank you.

You raise several matters but the remark about laity not only having to tell clergy about their job “spec”, but also the basics of their company belief and policy, says so much

We live at a time, not the first, when the hierarchy and clergy have largely failed the Church.

In the last fifty years, it has been increasingly, if anyone, laity who are standing up and teaching the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. The clergy, bishops and priests, with a few notable exceptions, have been conspicuous by their silence. When last did any of us hear a priest stand up and explain any specific aspect of Church teaching on sin, not just sex, but the other deadly sins?

Yes, no wonder the Church is at present in such a mess.
Simon Reilly said…
Time to consider whether this country warrants a hierarchy any more: roll on the vicariate apostolic!
Terry. Hemel Hempstead said…
Thank you Laurence, for saying what we should be hearing from the clergy. Their silence is deafening. I can only conclude that they have no zeal for souls.
Bonaventura said…

There was (is?) in Cambridge a beautiful church of Our Lady and English Martyrs. True lighthouse for our stormy night. Esp. one priest there- Father Christopher. Every Sunday he used to celebrate Novus Ordo but in Latin with "old-school" additions. I have regained my faith in that temple.
Now I am a Franciscan in Poland.I have recently asked my Provincial to let me go back to UK to pay back the debt. Christ has never forgotten England. There are prayers being said- still- on Your behalf.
:)
Lynda said…
How much more powerful and life-saving would what you say be, were it from a priest or bishop? Zeal for God, His Commandments, for bringing souls to salvation is gone in 99% of bishops and priests and religious. And those who have this zeal as we ought to, are actively persecuted. If even a small percentage of priests and bishops were prepared to accept the worst persecutions to continue to do their duty to speak the truth of the Faith and morals, to save (and not endanger) souls, think how the Church would be renewed and Faith restored by such sacrifice. We continue to pray and offer up our suffering to God, for this.
Kristin LA said…
I agree with Jacobi 's assessment that it is the laity who have had to step up and defend the Faith, in some cases without their priest's or bishop's clear teaching to back them up. I do feel sorry for the faithful priests and bishops who can be harassed for teaching orthodoxy, but that's to be expected if we recall the words of our Lord,

"If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20"Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also."(,John 15:18-20)
Terry said…
Andrew, in answer to your question as to why the Tablet is still available, let me give you the answer I received when I asked the Prior of a Benedictine monastery here in Japan where I spent a couple of days.
The Prior looked after our cathedral in Yokohama for a few years until we could get a foreign priest to come and is very traditionally minded. I told him how most good English Catholics viewed the Tablet so I was very surprised that they subscribed to it. He (being American so no dog in the fight) replied: "Yes, I know but they have a very good Arts section". :)

Lepanto said…
You say, " One assumes the best of Churchmen - indeed of everyone - so when a Bishop doesn't genuflect towards the Tabernacle, or derides Marian devotion, or fails to teach the Magisterium, one doesn't automatically assume he's having it away with someone else's wife or something". However I recall a priest saying that another very wise, older priest once told him that any priest who challenges the Magisterium always does so because he is, consciously or not, trying to rationalise his own (usually sexual) sins. When the younger priest queried the use of the word 'always', the old priest repeated with emphasis 'YES ALWAYS!'..
Lynda said…
What a ridiculous excuse! I've heard another such from priests in Ireland who subscribe to the evil-promoting "Irish Times": "I need to get it for the Death Notices"!!