A Welcome Appointment

I was greatly pleased when that outspoken pro-life priest and medical ethicist Fr Kevin Doran was appointed Bishop of Elphin last month. It was he, you will probably recall, who resigned from the Board of the Mater Hospital when that institution cravenly agreed to comply with the Government’s Orwellianly-titled Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, opening the door to the possibility of abortion in this country.

Bishop Doran has now braved the ire of the media and the chattering classes by denouncing the recent decision to carry out an early caesarean section on a woman threatening suicide as “really unethical”. When the present low-level persecution hots up, as it almost certainly will, he will be in the firing line.

I first met Fr Doran in 1983 when I had written some pro-life pieces for the old Catholic Standard. He invited me to join an outfit called the Life Education and Research Network (LEARN). The two of us edited a book called Abortion Now by various authors, including William Binchy and nurse tutor Loretto Browne. At that time, if memory serves, Fr Doran was chaplain to University College, Dublin. Later he became spiritual director at the Irish College in Rome.

He is one of the kindest and most considerate priests I have had the good fortune to know. When my wife and I arrived in Rome on our first visit, he went out of his way to call at our hotel and took us out to dinner at a delightful restaurant on the Via Merulana, between St Mary Major and St John Lateran. He showed us around the college and procured tickets for a papal audience the next day, and drove us to one of the catacombs.

During his time at the college, Fr Doran was very helpful to young Irish couples who chose to be married in Rome. Many of them found it stressful to deal with Italian officials, who were inclined when faced with communications difficulties to raise their voices and gesticulate. The Irish tended to think, mistakenly, that this was a sign of anger and impatience, and resented it.

Like the late Fr Des Forristal, Bishop Doran believes in letting a thousand flowers bloom. While not particularly in favour of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, as parish priest of Glendalough he was very willing to accommodate the Latin Mass Society of Ireland when it organised walking pilgrimages across the Wicklow mountains from St Colmcille’s well near Tallaght, concluding with a Vetus Ordo Mass in his church.

Ad multos annos.


Archiepiscopal faux pas

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin showed remarkably poor judgment when he criticised a young curate who had told his parish priest he was unhappy about some of the things Pope Francis has said.

In the first place, this was a private conversation. This PP had no right to snitch on his curate, and His Grace should not have compounded this breach of confidentiality during a speech in Australia. The relationship between this PP and the curate may have been damaged beyond repair.

Secondly, there are, I understand, only two priests under the age of 40 in the Dublin archdiocese. So it is very probable that this young curate can be identified.

And all, as one critic put it, just to add a bit of colour to the archbishop’s sociological discourse. It was ill done.

True to form, Fr Seamus Ahearn of the “Association of Catholic Priests” said we need to hear more comments like the archbishop’s, as “the few young priests there are in the Irish Church appear to embrace a very traditionalist view of Church”. Personally, I’m delighted to hear that they do.

Incidentally, I can’t help wondering why their ageing liberal colleagues are always so averse to using the definite article? Can anyone explain it?


Gardening Talk Is Racist?

Do you like pottering around the garden? A spot of mowing, maybe some weeding, or making sure the slugs haven’t got at the lettuces? Perhaps you like trying to grow different varieties of roses, tulips or daffodils, or maybe cabbages, carrots or runner beans? Maybe you even listen to gardening discussion programmes on the radio…?

Stop! All that gardening talk is racist, according to a senior lecturer in–you’ve guessed it–sociology. On the BBC radio programme Thinking Aloud Dr Ben Pitcher of Westminster University asserted that the station’s Gardener’s Question Time is “riddled with racist overtones”. It is full of  “racial meanings”, and all those references to soil purity and non-native species are promoting nationalist and fascist beliefs.

Dr Pitcher believes the programme is connected with the crisis in white identity in multicultural Britain. Apparently people are ashamed to be overtly racist so they conceal their perverted ideas behind all this gardening talk.

You really couldn’t make it up. How did this head-banger ever secure a senior lecturing post at a university? But he’s not the only academic with such views. On the same programme, Lola Young, a former professor of cultural studies, agreed with Dr Pitcher’s analysis. Back in the 1980s, said she,  gardening enthusiasts were talking about going out “rhododendron-bashing”. That was at a time when Paki-bashing was something that was all too prevalent on our streets.・ Quod erat demonstrandum?

Come to think about it, the most surprising thing about Ms Young’s analysis is that she didn’t shy away from using what usually now has to be referred to as “the P-word”. Hope someone reports her to the Race Relations Board.


A Problem Like Sharia

We noted in our first issue that Lefty neo-fascism is on the march. I don’t go in for conspiracy theories, but it is amazing how the militant Left, almost everywhere you look, is trying to shut down debate on controversial topics from Islam and Israel to global warming and “gay marriage”.

A few examples culled from an article by Mark Steyn in the London Spectator.

In California, the chief executive of the software company Mozilla has been forced to resign because he once made a political donation in support of traditional marriage.

At Westminster, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee declared that the BBC should seek  “special clearance” before it interviews those who challenge the climate change consensus. Such sceptics would include the former Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson, not to mention many highly-qualified scientists.

Also in London, a multitude of liberal journalists and artists responsible for everything from Monty Python to Downton Abbey have signed an open letter in favour of the first state restraints on the British press in three and a quarter centuries.

And in our own island of saints and scholars, a speaker at the National University of Ireland, Galway, who tried to argue against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions programme against Israel was shouted down by thugs screaming obscenities, and ordered to “get the **** off our campus”.

This whole attitude is summed up by another example given by Steyn, quoting Erin Ching, a student at $60,000-a-year Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, in her college newspaper: “What really bothered me is the whole idea that at a liberal arts college we need to be hearing a diversity of opinion.”  Yeah, says Steyn, who needs that?  “There speaks the voice of a generation: celebrate diversity by enforcing conformity.”

You can read his entire article by googling  “Spectator Steyn Diversity”.

I just love his gallows humour: “By mid-century a majority of Austrians under 15 will be Moslem. Salzburg, 1938, singing nuns, Julie Andrews: How do you solve a problem like Maria?・ Salzburg, 2038: How do you solve a problem like Sharia?”


Infallible Fallacies?

I haven’t forgotten that I promised in a previous issue to try to tackle some concerns that have arisen about aspects of the present pontificate. As an unqualified layman, I am reluctant to attempt anything of the kind, but it can’t be avoided indefinitely. For the present, as much for my own enlightenment as anyone else’s, here are some pertinent questions.

1. Does the Faith come from the pope? Y/N

2. Does papal infallibility operate in every single thing the pope says and does? Y/N

3. Is the pope impeccable? Y/N

4. Does the pope have to understand the subtleties and nuances of Church politics, geopolitics, economics, the agenda of the media or the machinations of the various factions in the Curia and hierarchy? Y/N

5. Is it necessary for either the validity of the papacy or the survival of the Church for the pope to be a a major player in academic philosophy or theology, have the right ideas about politics, economics, culture, sociology or history? Y/N

6. Can a pope be crazy and still be pope? Y/N

Finally, a harder one:

7. Can the pope be wrong on matters of aith and morals? Can the pope be a heretic and still be the pope? Y/N

I’m sorry to be so Delphic, but I’ll try to be a bit more forthcoming next time.

One comment

  1. Qq 1-5, Ans. No
    Q 6, Ans. depends on what ‘crazy’ means.
    q 7, Thoughts on the first half: I’m not a theologian, but would have thought that infallibility attaches to both the Pope’s ordinary and extraordinary magisterium. As far as I remember, the Church permits a theologian who has a conscientious objection to some teaching or other to continue to hold that private objection, but not to publicize it. I can imagine a Pope having a personal disagreement with some matter of faith and morals, but provided he didn’t publicize it, presumably he could be a Pope and wrong on this or that matter.
    Thoughts on the second half: My vague memory is that the only Pope who’s considered by some to have got it wrong on a matter of dogma was Pope Liberius–who signed something to do with the Trinity when misled by the Emperor of Constantinople (I haven’t time to check this on Wikipedia), but when he got back to Rome he withdrew his consent to that statement. The short answer would be that if a Pope was a heretic, he’d have to be deposed. But I presume Jesus’ promise of prayer for Peter (including his successors) that Satan wouldn’t be able to shake him, and his declaration that the gates of Hell would not prevail against the Church founded on Peter are what have preserved the Papacy for the last 2 millennia.
    Since I presume all this kerfuffel is about Pope Francis, I guess you’d better come up with the instances where he’s been wrong on faith and morals, or heretical. My normal bet of 50c is in play here that you’ll lose on both those issues. Great stramentarius blog, keep up the good work! Brendan

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