Monday 27 September 2010

Catholic Voices' leaders seek to redefine Catholicism on life and family issues

Dr Austen Ivereigh, co-ordinator of Catholic Voices, former director of public affairs to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor and former deputy editor of The Tablet, refers to me and to others as Taliban Catholics. Here is an extract from an interview with John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter:

Mr Allen: You put this in the plural, “Catholic Voices.” How do you define a Catholic voice?

Dr Ivereigh answered:
"... [One] criterion was Catholicity, which is where the controversy arises ... [One] thing was that they have to be comfortable with all aspects of church teaching, comfortable enough to put the church’s view across in a way that doesn’t make them squirm. Interestingly, that did automatically exclude people who are critical of the bishops from either side ... We did get a few [applications] from what you would call the “Taliban Catholics,” who of course have become very vociferous on the blogosphere in the last few years. They’re very critical of the bishops for compromising too much with modernity and not promoting Catholic truth as they see it."
This is interesting language from someone who recently took it upon himself to teach the pro-life movement (including me) "lessons in civility"! (These lessons include "civil" descriptions and comparisons of other Catholics and their work, such as "mob", "puritans", "loopiness", "craziness" and "the tactics of Soviet Communism".)

Dr Ivereigh's position on "Taliban Catholics" would be more impressive if he could explain how Archbishop Nichols's notorious comments on gay "unions"* promote Catholic truth, or how the Catholic Education Service (CES), an agency of the Catholic bishops' conference of England and Wales, promotes Catholic truth by appointing an anti-life, anti-family former MP as its deputy director.

Elsewhere, in the comments-box of Laurence England's blog, Mr England put the following question to 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."
But as Fr Timothy Finigan has rightly put it in another context:
"This paper [The Tablet] has no place in any Catholic home, parish Church, or Cathedral. Tabula delenda est."
Dr Ivereigh's loyalty to The Tablet should be sufficient evidence for any faithful pro-life/pro-family Catholic to conclude that he should not be appointed to any representative position in any official or unofficial Catholic or pro-life/pro-family organisation.

Dr Ivereigh appears to be using the profile and position afforded him by the Catholic Voices project to redefine the common perception of what constitutes mainstream Catholicism in England, an agenda pursued by The Tablet for decades.

Sadly, not only is Dr Ivereigh apparently indifferent to the errors of The Tablet on pro-life/pro-family issues, he and his fellow Catholic Voices leader, Jack Valero, defend and promote at least some of those errors.

* The late Pope John Paul II, the great pro-life champion, taught in paragraph 97 of his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae that it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection.

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