Tuesday 7 June 2011

Catholic Voices' definition of "Catholicity" undermines the Gospel of Life

St Paul. Not Catholic Voices material!
Catholic Voices, which is run by Dr Austen Ivereigh and Jack Valero, is inviting people to apply for its 2011 speakers programme. Applicants are asked to "please bear in mind", among other points:
"Catholicity. You need to be a practising Catholic, in communion with the Church and content with its leadership – that is, not angry or upset with Rome or the bishops of England and Wales." [my emphasis]
Are you a Catholic teacher angry with the bishops' education service for welcoming and helping draft pro-contraception sex ed proposals? Catholic Voices says: You're not Catholic enough for us.

Are you a Catholic nurse upset with Archbishop Peter Smith for helping pass the pro-euthanasia Mental Capacity Act and whitewashing the pro-suicide DPP guidelines? Catholic Voices says: You're not Catholic enough for us.

Are you a Catholic social worker angry with the bishop's justice and peace network for inviting pro-abortion speakers to address its conference? Catholic Voices says: You're not Catholic enough for us.

So many are the violations of the Gospel of Life by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales - for whom Dr Ivereigh and Mr Valero have worked in the recent past - that the examples could be added exponentially. And there are so many things wrong with Catholic Voices' definition of Catholicity that it's difficult to know where to start.

Firstly, not only is it not unCatholic to be discontented with the Church's leadership, in some cases it is a moral duty. 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). [my emphasis]
Neither a St Paul, a St Catherine of Siena nor any other holy figure who expressed discontent with the Church's leadership would be Catholic enough for Catholic Voices.

Secondly, Catholic Voices' definition of Catholicity posits a false equivalence between the leadership by Rome and the leadership by the bishops of England and Wales. Rome, through Popes Benedict, John Paul II and Paul VI, has given invaluable leadership to the pro-life and pro-family cause - leadership which the bishops' conference then undermines. For example: both before and since becoming Pope, and immediately before his visit last year to the UK, Benedict XVI has made crystal-clear that Catholics must oppose resolutely the homosexual agenda*, including civil partnerships. Yet no sooner had Pope Benedict returned to Rome that Vincent Nichols, archbishop of Westminster, was endorsing gay civil partnerships.

Thirdly, Dr Ivereigh and Mr Valero don't operate according to their own definition of Catholicity. Last year Mr Valero told the BBC that he:
"was very angry too that [sex abuse] could happen in my Church ... [I]t is about the institutional failure of the bishops to handle it and [in] allowing it to continue ... [M]any bishops have resigned [and] others should resign". [my emphases]
Also last year Dr Ivereigh attacked Rome's Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Clergy, Cardinal Castrillion Hoyos, regarding the latter's response as Prefect to the sex abuse crisis, in terms showing no lack of discontent, anger and upset:
"pride and wickedness"; "arrogant"; "shocking"; "damning"; "astonishingly unedifying"; "clericalist hauteur".
And it should not be forgotten that Dr Ivereigh is a former deputy editor of The Tablet, which is notorious for its constant discontent with not only the Church's leadership but with the Church's teachings, including on pro-life and pro-family issues.

There's much more than can - and will - be said about the negative role being played by Dr Ivereigh and Mr Valero in the public square. For now, however, readers of this blog should conclude that their deference to episcopal officialdom is neither Catholic nor pro-life.

* 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.

Comments on this blog? Email them to johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk
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