Educated Catholics sow dissent, confusion, claims bishop

From the Telegraph (UK), 11.16.2008.


Spotted in the VOTF News.


My editorial comments are in bold red.


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Educated Catholics have sown dissent and confusion in the Church, claims bishop


University-educated Catholics are to blame for the crisis in the Church and the growth of secularism, according to the bishop charged with tackling the decline in Mass attendance.



By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent
Last Updated: 9:27AM GMT 16 Nov 2008


The Rt Rev Patrick O’Donoghue, the Bishop of Lancaster, has claimed that graduates are spreading scepticism and sowing dissent. Instead of following the Church’s teaching they are “hedonistic”, “selfish” and “egocentric”, he said.


The bishops are doing a lousy job of managing the church and meeting the needs of the people. They lack leadership. So, rather than committing to a much-needed serious reflection on their own shortcomings, they lash out at the people they are supposed to serve, calling them names. It’s similar to a GM or Ford executive saying that American car buyers are unpatriotic because they’re buying Toyotas. The American car executive, if he has any competence at all, would find out why their former customers are buying Toyotas and make changes to meet their customers’ needs.


In particular, the bishop complained that influential Catholics in politics and the media were undermining the Church.


While not naming names, he suggested that such people had been compromised by their education, which he said had a “dark side, due to original sin”.


Who has been compromised by their education—you, educated reader, or the bishop whose formation as a priest and bishop has been influenced by a medieval and out-of-touch Church culture?


Prominent Catholics in public life include Mark Thompson, the BBC’s director general, and Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister.


Bishop O’Donoghue, who has recently published a report on how to renew Catholicism in Britain, argued that mass education has led to “sickness in the Church and wider society”.


The bishops’ ham-handed, even criminal, mismanagement of the clergy sex abuse crisis has led to sickness in the Church. The bishops should look up the Latin phrase mea culpa and reflect on it in light of their criminal cover up of sex crimes against children by the priests they are supposed to supervise.


“What we have witnessed in Western societies since the end of the Second World War is the development of mass education on a scale unprecedented in human history – resulting in economic growth, scientific and technological advances, and the cultural and social enrichment of billions of people’s lives,” he said.

“However, every human endeavor has a dark side, due to original sin and concupiscence. In the case of education, we can see its distortion through the widespread dissemination of radical scepticism, positivism, utilitarianism and relativism.


Here we see the application of one of the most used tools in the episcopal tool box: deflection or diversion. It’s used by magicians as well as bishops. They divert your attention from where the real action is in order to sustain their well-crafted illusions, and delusions. Bishops divert attention from the real source of the problem—themselves. They blame demonic bogeymen such as radical scepticism, positivism, utilitarianism and relativism. Blame anybody but yourself. The story is as old as Adam and Eve. Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent. It’s scapegoating pure and simple. It seems to be ingrained in human nature.


“Taken together, these intellectual trends have resulted in a fragmented society that marginalizes God, with many people mistakenly thinking they can live happy and productive lives without him.


The bishop is confusing God and Church. Many thinking, adult, educated Catholics are seeking God outside the walls of the Vatican Fortress. They have decided that they cannot trust an unaccountable and secretive Church to be the gateway to the divine.  They have decided that they can do without the medievalism of the Roman Catholic Church’s two classes of members, clerics who in the command and control position and lay folks who must be docile and controlled by the clerics. Bishop O’Donoghue is living in the past. Educated people in the 21st century will not stand for the gobbledygook and cock-eyed worldview of the medieval Roman Catholic Church.


“It shouldn’t surprise us that the shadows cast by the distortion of education, and corresponding societal changes, have also touched members of the Church. As Pope Benedict XVI puts it, even in the Church we find hedonism, selfishness and egocentric behavior.”


More boegymen and no serious attempt at deep self-reflection.


The bishop said that Catholic graduates had rejected the reforms made in the second council of the Vatican, which introduced fundamental changes in issues such as liturgy and doctrine.


This statement astounds me. Where does Bishop O’Donoghue get his information?


“The Second Vatican Council tends to be misinterpreted most by Catholics who have had a university education — that is, by those most exposed to the intellectual and moral spirit of the age,” he said. “These well-educated Catholics have gone on to occupy influential positions in education, the media, politics, and even the Church, where they have been able to spread their so-called loyal dissent, causing confusion and discord in the whole church.”


The bishop wants 100% loyalty to Church doctrine, which is the end product of the theological musings of the clerics who control the Church. That goal flew out the window opened by Vatican II (aggiornamento) and kept open by the ill-advised ban on artificial birth control proclaimed by Humanae Vitae.  The fact that one never hears a sermon on birth control is proof that the bishops have lost that battle and are smart enough to understand that. The bishops hope the subject is never brought up because it represents a threat to the hegemony of the controlling clerics and their tendency toward creeping infallibility.


Mr Thompson, who went to Oxford University, has this month been embroiled in a row over broadcasting standards in the wake of the scandal over offensive telephone messages left by Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand. Under his command the BBC broadcast Jerry Springer The Opera, considered blasphemous by many Christians, and was forced to pull a cartoon called Popetown set in a fictional Vatican over concerns it would cause offence.


Mr Blair, also Oxford-educated, became a Catholic last year but has received Mass for years. As Prime Minister he oversaw the introduction of laws on gay rights and abortion which the Catholic church opposed.


The bishop said that influential Catholics had set a bad example and corrupted the faith of those who had not gone to university.


The bishop is in effect admitting that he and the Church he represents prefer uneducated members rather than educated ones.


“This failure of leadership has exacerbated the even-greater problem of the mass departure from the Church of the working-class and poor,” he said. “For example, the relentless diatribe in the popular media against Christianity has undermined the confidence of the ordinary faithful in the Church.”


In the bishop’s worldview any criticism is a relentless diatribe.


Although the influx of immigrants from Catholic countries in Eastern Europe has buoyed Mass attendance in recent years, there has been a significant decline in the number of indigenous, working-class Catholics.


Attendance at Mass in 1991 was recorded as 1.3 million, representing a drop of 40 per cent since 1963, but it fell further to 960,000 in 2004. The number of priests in England and Wales has slumped by nearly a quarter in 20 years, from 4,545 in 1985 to 3,643 in 2005.


Bishop O’Donoghue has produced a report, Fit for Mission? Church, examining the current problems facing the Church and designed “to enable Catholic men, women and children to resist the pressures to compromise, even abandon, the truths of the Catholic faith”.


He says that he supports Catholics receiving a university education, but urges they should be “better-equipped to challenge the erroneous thinking of their contemporaries”.


Does anybody have examples of the erroneous thinking of the bishops?


Nicholas Lash, the former Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University, called the bishop’s comments “extremely grave”.

Writing in this week’s Tablet – a respected Catholic journal – Prof Lash says: “If he had named a particular university or universities, or particular individuals, he might well have had a series of libel actions on his hands.


“Quite what constructive purpose could possibly be served by such irresponsible and wholesale scapegoating of the educated, I have simply no idea.”


          What constructive purpose, indeed. Professor Lash is correct. It’s scapegoating,  pure and simple.

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