"Smeaton attacks Catholic Voices"My response:
- I have never attacked Catholic Voices. I have, rather, criticised its coordinators Dr Austen Ivereigh and Jack Valero, and some of the content of its blog, which one assumes was (at the very least) published with their approval.
"According to John Smeaton (photo) of the hardline lobby SPUC, Catholic Voices seeks 'to redefine the common perception of what constitutes mainstream Catholicism in England'. Behind this conspiracy, he asserts, lies The Tablet. And his reason for believing that CV coordinators Ivereigh and Valero share this aim? Why, 'Dr Ivereigh's loyalty to The Tablet' -- on the basis that he refused to accept a blogger's invitation to describe the weekly as a 'vehicle for dissent'.My response:
- I did not say that it is "Catholic Voices", but rather "Catholic Voices' leaders" Dr Ivereigh and Mr Valero who seek to redefine, etc.
- Dr Ivereigh, a former Tablet deputy editor, did not merely "refuse to accept a blogger's invitation to describe [The Tablet] as a 'vehicle for dissent' but actually rejected the claim that The Tablet is a vehicle for dissent. On his blog Laurence England asked Dr Ivereigh: "[A]t what point in your career did you decide that The Tablet had lost sight of the Catholic Faith and had become a vehicle for dissent of Catholic Teaching? ... [W]hat you make of it nowadays?" Dr Ivereigh replied: "I've never decided that about the Tablet ... I write for it still. And subscribe. That should answer your question."
- It is a cheap debating trick to rubbish as conspiracy theories the highlighting of possible threats to Catholic pro-life/pro-family witness. Also, it goes against the teaching of St Francis de Sales, a Doctor of the Church, who wrote: "It is true charity to point out the wolf wheresoever he creeps in among the flock." No truly charitable Catholic familiar with The Tablet can deny that it is a vehicle for dissent, a wolf among the flock.
"Indeed, Smeaton's attempt at an auto-da-fe on this question -- because Ivereigh reads the Tablet (as he does other Catholic papers)..."My response:
- I made no mention of Dr Ivereigh "read[ing] the Tablet".
- My objection to Dr Ivereigh's role representing Catholicism includes Dr Ivereigh's loyalty to The Tablet, his defence and promotion of some of the errors of The Tablet on pro-life/pro-family issues, and his Tablet-esque whitewashing of (among things) Tony Blair's record, condom use in relation to the Catholic Church's perennial prohibition on contraception, and Catholic schooling in England and Wales.
"...is typical of the 'Taliban' mentality of many in the blogosphere who call for the banning, destruction or burning of literature and people they regard as "heretical", even when there has been no such call or declaration by whom the Church's own law entrusts with the authority to do so."My response:
- In England and Wales it is precisely those "whom the Church's own law entrusts with the authority" (i.e. the Catholic bishops) who are producing the very literature and promoting the very people undermining the Church's teaching on pro-life/pro-family issues.
"Smeaton has long considered himself a guardian of the limits of Catholic orthodoxy, preferring his own Magisterium to that of the bishops and of Rome"My response:
- Canon 212 #3 of the Code of Canon Law 1983 which says: "According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, [Christ's faithful] have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons." [my emphases]. I challenge Monitor to find even one single statement or action of mine at variance with the Church's Magisterium. (Hint: you won't find one).
"scouring the statements of bishops in search of 'heterodoxy', frequently misquoting them or distorting their words in a conscious attempt to undermine the authority of the Church's pastors."My response:
- Dr Ivereigh made a similar claim on Laurence England's blog, yet provides not one single piece of evidence of how I have misquoted or distorted any bishop's words - because he has no evidence, because there is no evidence.
"He has consistently undermined the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, in ways that in the view of Catholic Voices is quite inconsistent with the Catholic commitment to communion."My response:
- St Thomas Aquinas, the common Doctor of the Church, teaches on the matter: "There being an imminent danger for the Faith, prelates must be questioned, even publicly, by their subjects." (Summa Theologiae, IIa IIae, Q. 33, A. 4). Archbishop Nichols' approach to homosexulity and to sex and relationships education are "imminent danger[s] for the Faith".
"And while his organisation, SPUC, does some useful research, its policies of refusing to engage with attempts by Parliament to reduce the numbers of abortions are at odds with the very clear and stated policy of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales 'to work and vote for achievable and incremental improvements to an unjust law'."My response:
- SPUC is the world's oldest pro-life lobbying and educational organisation, founded in 1967, and the largest in Europe, comprised of tens of thousands of faithful Catholics and people of other beliefs. SPUC has wons the plaudits of countless Catholic bishops, pro-life leaders, politicians and academics throughout the world for defending human life with love from conception to natural death, not only for our work in the UK but at the UN and within the European institutions. By contrast, Catholic Voices is a brand new, tiny organisation, by its own admission mostly comprised of fairly inexperienced volunteers.
- SPUC opposed recent so-called "attempts by Parliament to reduce the numbers of abortions" precisely because those attempts not only would have failed to reduce the numbers of abortions, but may even have led to increasing those numbers. Those attempts therefore did not represent "improvements" and were not even "achievable", being defeated by comfortable margins in parliament, as SPUC long predicted.
- SPUC is not a Catholic organisation and is therefore in no way bound to follow the policies of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales or their national conference. Also, a national bishops' conference is no more the Catholic Church than are Catholic Voices or Catholics in SPUC: "[T]he episcopal conferences have no theological basis, they do not belong to the structure of the Church, as willed by Christ, that cannot be eliminated ... No episcopal conference, as such, has a teaching mission: its documents have no weight of their own save that of the consent given to them by the individual bishops." (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, "The Ratzinger Report", 1992)
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