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November 2, 2014

The Tablet Stuck in a Time-Warp

For a penance, once or twice a year I buy a copy of the Tablet in one of our local churches, just to see what the British mods are thinking . The most revealing section is probably the Letters column. You get an eerie feeling that we are still in the 1960s or early 70s.

The first letter is from France, by a doctor with an Irish name, regurgitating the same ideas about “conscience” as we used to hear just after the Second Vatican Council. He quotes with approval the suggestion by the confessor of one divorced and “remarried” woman that it was up to her own conscience whether she should “take” Communion. ( With Catholic mods, as with Protestants, it’s always “take”, never “receive”.)  This doctor scorns the idea that the Church is “some kind of overarching monarchy from which one has to request permission for one’s actions”. Monarchies, he says, were discredited in the French Revolution over 200 years ago. (“Discrediting” is surely rather an odd way to describe slicing your monarch’s head off.) The doctor concludes by asserting that most of us are quite capable of thinking things through for ourselves “without the need for clergy to tell us what to think, what to do and how to do it”. I am quite unable to understand why people who no longer believe in the magisterium still want to remain part of the Church. Can anyone explain it to me?

Another writer, from Co. Donegal, wishes piotiously : “Perhaps the Holy Spirit will inspire the Synod  Fathers to find a way of not denying the Lord to those who have trouble with their marriages”.  Well, if the synod had come up with such a formula, it would not have been  the Holy Spirit who put them up to it. Anyway, Holy Communion is not denied to “those who have trouble with their marriages”, but to people who refuse to repent of ongoing adultery. It’s not the same thing.

Then we have the “Movement for Married Clergy UK”, suggesting that the fulfilment of their goal might render multiple funerals unnecessary.  Another letter likens the situation of women who have affairs with Catholic priests, to that of the wives of Anglican clerical converts–as though the two were in any way comparable. Yet another, from a woman in Cambridge,  suggests that acceptance of “the teachings of Vatican II” should be a “2014 test of orthodoxy”. She hopes the Synod Fathers “can put collegiality really into practice”.

Next comes  a letter from a woman in Coventry likening the agnostic writer  George Eliot with St Teresa of Avila, “the unconventional and rebellious saint  who struggled with her male  `superiors`”. (The single quotes are not mine, and not St Teresa’s–they are the letter writer’s.)  Finally, the letters column carries a brief item, also from Coventry, this time from a man. He quotes from the Deist encyclopaedist  and anti-religious propagandist Denis Diderot, of all people,  in support of the contention that the synod bishops have no business discussing marriage, because they not married themselves.





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