Tuesday 27 January 2009

Fearless Bishop O’Donoghue makes plea to fellow bishops on catechetics

In a forthright talk at Oxford University this evening, Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue has fearlessly explained how many Catholics in Britain have rejected “much that is essential to Catholic faith and practice, relentlessly criticising the Church’s past, placing their own judgement above the authority of the Church, these ‘Catholics’ advocate, and import into the Church, what the secular world holds up as ‘good’ as being in keeping with the ‘tolerance’ and ‘compassion’ of Jesus – divorce, contraception, abortion, IVF, homosexual acts/unions, embryonic stem cell research.”

Bishop O’Donoghue was speaking at the Newman Society, Oxford University's oldest student Catholic society, on Why I wrote Fit for Mission: Church, the bishop's document, published last year, which has won a number of plaudits from the Vatican. (Cardinal John Henry Newman pictured above)

Bishop O'Donoghue's talk provided a frank analysis of how secularism is influencing the Catholic Church, continuing a theme he developed in last weekend’s Catholic Herald. He spoke about “obstacles” put in the way of “the authentic implementation” of the Second Vatican Council by Catholics “particularly in positions of leadership in schools, seminaries, parishes, and dioceses”.

“ … Looking around at the pathetic situation of catechetics in this country”, Bishop O’Donoghue said, “and the extent of ignorance and apostasy among generations of Catholics since the Council, we have to ask ourselves, ‘Why has Pope John’s vision for the Council not been realised in this country?’…”

In a plea to his brother bishops, he asked: “Why are some Catholic education authorities, even bishops in this country, so fearful of Fit for Mission Schools?” – an earlier document in which he called on parents, schools and colleges to reject anti-life sex education.

“After all”, the bishop said, “it only re-iterates the teaching of the Church and it is has been widely and publicly welcomed by the Vatican and many bishops, clergy and laity around the world?”

Bishop O’Donoghue continued:

“In Fit for Mission? Schools and Fit for Mission? Church I have sought to identify the obstacles that have blocked the true vision and grace of the Council. Let me briefly list what has got in the way and continues to do so …

“… Catholics in this country have interpreted the Council as signalling a wholesale rejection of aspects of the Church’s identity, out of a desire to be open to modernity … A wide-spread caricature of the Council’s Decree on Religious Freedom has resulted in many Catholics holding that if – in conscience – they disagree with any teaching of the Church then they have the freedom – even the duty – to reject that teaching.

“For many, the authority of the autonomous conscience has overthrown the authority of Christ given to Peter and the Apostles. Catholics have forgotten that a conscience ill-informed about the divine law and natural law has a predisposition to make errors of judgement, due to being easily swayed by passion and self-interest, and weakened by habitual sin. As a consequence for some Catholics the objective authority of the Church’s doctrine, morality and discipline has been replaced by a subjective, personal judgement of the so called ‘pick and mix’ generation of Catholics … ”