Men, try and sing this and I can tell you now, even with falsetto you won't get the top note!
Fr John Boyle and Fr Ray Blake have picked up on a report in The Tablet that Bishop Malcolm McMahon, the Chairman of the Catholic Education Service, has insisted that the Church will not 'investigate', though that term seems a little 'inquisition'-esque, the lives of those applying to become Head Teachers of Catholic Schools. Their concern, and it is a very valid one, grounded firmly in their love of Holy Mother Church and the spiritual welfare of those educated in the Church's centres of education, is that this announcement poses the risk of yet more watering down of the Church's ability to pass the Catholic Faith down to children.
Yet, from what I hear, from both those who work in Catholic education and those who are on the receiving end of Catholic education, already the fruits of Catholic education in terms of passing the Faith down appear to be utterly rotten. Catechesis is in crisis and a wave of trendy, liberal ideas which emerged in the 1960s, 70s and 80s still blight Catholic education. Soundness of teaching and Truth are rare, heresy and liberalism commonplace. Many children in state education, it is said, having attended literacy and numeracy classes throughout their time in primary school (or even secondary school) leave without being able to read, write or add up properly. The same crisis, it appears, exists within catechesis of the Catholic Faith to children. They leave and have learned little. If anything has been 'passed down', it has been so watery it has trickled through their poor little fingers.
The current trend within both society at large and Catholicism to keep private lives and public lives separated, is, many believe, responsible for a great deal of scandal within the Church. And so it is. Our state of lives are important. If the Church does not at least enquire into the state of life of an individual seeking the headship of a Catholic School, then is not the Catholic Faith itself at risk from being mis-represented, compromised or diluted?
Yet, I would argue quite vehemently that the 'state of life' of Headteachers is not the crisis at the heart of either Catholic education or any secular Catholic institution. The blossoming crisis, for there is one, is a crisis of Faith, the roots of which are watered with heresy, lukewarmness and disobedience to the Magisterium of the Church, in mind, heart and speech.
We have within our Bishops Conference of England and Wales and within the Priesthood many individuals the 'state of life' of whom we are utterly unaware. We do not know whether the lives of our Bishops (or our Priests, for that matter) are 'exemplary' or holy. All we do know is that many of them fail, quite abysmally, to proclaim the Gospel in word and speech. With only a few exceptions, we have a set of Bishops who feel apparently unable to express with love the fullness of the Truth of the Catholic Faith. Would that a pastoral letter resembled even slightly the love for God and souls expressed by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI!?
Bishops of England and Wales, literally waiting to be bashed...hopefully at the Ad Limina!
Do they urge the Laity towards holiness of life? Do they proclaim the evils of artificial contraception? Do they speak of the need for our frequent recourse to the Sacrament of Reconciliation? Do they have a burning passion for Our Blessed Lord in the Eucharist and express the need for us to approach Him with hearts made pure by Absolution? Do they champion priestly celibacy? Do even half of our Bishops (and Priests) treasure and defend the Catholic Faith and Holy Tradition!? No, they do not! Some of them didn't even want the Relics of St Therese of Lisieux in their Diocese! Do they warn us about the dangers, both spiritual and temporal of the gamut of snares for our souls associated with the 'Culture of Death'? No, they do not! How many Priests do?!
How, then, how, can we possibly expect our Catholic Headteachers to do it, teach it, let alone live it?! For if our own Bishops are not teaching it, what are they to say!? Who is teaching the teachers!? I am quite sure, that even if were true that a Headteacher of a Catholic school was a homosexual with a lover, that that sin, especially if that soul desired God's mercy in the Sacrament of Penance, that sin can be wiped out. That sin would compare as naught to the terrible sin of failing to teach the Catholic Faith in fullness of Truth, of leaving school children as orphans of the Truth and the latest news from Bishop McMahon is just the most recent example of the Bishops' failure to defend the Faith! Same-sex civil partnerships are now just fine, apparently!
This may sound controversial, but I am quite sure that God would sooner have one, discreet homosexual who loved the Church and was loyal to the Magisterium of the Church, yet who struggled with chastity or loneliness, running a Catholic school than a hundred Tablet-reading heretics campaigning for changes to Church teaching on homosexuality and contraception! I know a gay man who was kicked out of the seminary in the States in the 70s. It is still a mystery as to whether he was kicked out because he was a gay man, or because he was totally, 100% loyal to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. I can tell you now that he was totally celibate, whereas his seminarian colleagues and his Rector were not and some of them were gay! So was he persecuted for his orientation or his orthodoxy?! That was the 70s, of course, so where are those Priests now? I dread to think!
I understand very well these loyal Priests' desire to see, in Headteachers, lives which are outwardly Catholic so that these heads may proclaim the Gospel 'in season and out of season'. Yet their 'state of life' is not at the root of the crisis! This crisis, and this is one, is that the Gospel is not proclaimed and taught faithfully from so many Bishops and so many Priests. So many Priests, so many Bishops hold views and beliefs which are utterly contrary to the Gospel! Why would a civil partnership or a hundred civil partnerships matter to a group of Bishops for whom the term 'mortal sin' is defined in the Diocesan Dictionary as, 'something which happened in the Middle Ages'. In these times, how on earth do faithful and loyal Priests like Fr Ray Blake and Fr John Boyle expect Catholic Headteachers to proclaim the Gospel to the children in their care! They'd have to be living Saints! Indeed, if the Bishops and Priests defended Truth a little more, the state of lives of Headteachers might improve tenfold, maybe a hundredfold!
Pope Benedict XVI ordains seminarians: Let's hope they are faithful to the Magisterium as Priests.
The Gospel, in a way, makes hypocrites of us all. The Standard, which is nothing and noone else but Our Lord Jesus Christ, is a difficult standard indeed, not obtainable by our human efforts alone and we all fall short at certain times in our lives more than at others. What we need is Bishops and Priests who respect the Authority of the Church enough to teach the fullness of Truth and who then teach it! In Headteachers, we need men and women who respect the Authority of the Church to teach the fullness of Truth and who teach it! All the better if they can strive to live it with the Grace of God, but honestly, let us affix our feet to the first rung of the Ladder of Divine Ascent, Truth, so that our feet may find stumble to find the next rung!
And yet, the Gospel is a double-edged sword. In Bishops and Priests we need men who respect the Church's membership enough to see that, in God's eyes, none of us is 'exemplary' and that while our 'state in life' is important in lending credibility to the Laity's vocations, and while our personal sins can amount to a stain on our character, that the greater sin belongs to those who fail to teach the Truth, teachers in schools, yes, but perhaps more importantly Teachers ordained by God Himself. These Teachers are those who leave the children of the Church ignorant of the Gospel! These Teachers are those who have not informed the sacred Consciences of adults or children with the Light of Christ.
That sin, of course, lays at the door of many Catholic head teachers and Catholic teachers, that is, those teachers who are actually baptised Catholics, who actually go to Mass, for I hear that even these are rare! Yet the Judgment of God, we know, will not go so hard on these as it will for so many Priests and many, many Bishops, since they have been ordained by the High Priest, Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, to teach the Laity!
Not that many holy Headteachers in the Laity living a truly Catholic 'state of life'? Oh, really?! I wonder why! This isn't just a liberal, secularised generation of Catholics applying to be heads of Catholic schools. This is a generation of liberal, secularised Catholics applying to be heads, taught by a liberal, secularised set of Bishops and Priests! In a nutshell, these are the Headteachers who 'Standup4Vatican2' alongside a 'veritable army of Priests and Bishops' just as Pope St. Gregory the Great predicted in his warning of the Antichrist! What was sowed is now finally being reaped!
If anyone in the Church wishes to 'investigate' the lives of Her members, then let them 'investigate' for adherence to, and loyalty to, the Magisterium of the Church and rebellion from Church teaching, rather than vice, since, if Headteachers are loyal to the first they will at least desire to fight the second! Such an investigation, were it applied to those in authority in the Church would doubtless yield distressing results within both the Priesthood and the Bishops Conference! This statement by Bishop McMahon is just the latest testimony to that cold, hard fact! If our Bishops must 'investigate' anything, or anyone, right now, then let it be themselves and let it be their own disobedience to the Magisterium, to the Holy Father, who guards the Deposit of Faith, and their own scandalously liberal and confusing teaching! Pray for holy Headteachers, but first, pray for holy Priests and even holier Bishops since without the latter two, the former is highly unlikely!
For more analysis on this subject and the Ad Limina at which the Bishops could receive some 'investigation' of their own, read Damian Thompson's blog today. Rant over!