Tuesday 24 March 2015

“Senior churchmen” accused of intimidating clergy faithful to Catholic teaching on marriage

I was greatly encouraged to read this morning the press statement released by the co-ordinator of the “Support Marriage Letter”, which reveals that 461 priests from across England and Wales have signed a letter urging those cardinals and bishops attending the Ordinary Synod to uphold Catholic teaching on the nature of marriage and to affirm the unchangeable doctrine and discipline of the Church regarding the reception of Holy Communion by divorced persons living in invalid civil unions.

The priests’ letter says:
“We affirm the importance of upholding the Church’s traditional discipline regarding the reception of the sacraments, and that doctrine and practice remain firmly and inseparably in harmony.”
I was however greatly concerned to read in their press statement the accusation that there “has been a certain amount of pressure not to sign the letter and indeed a degree of intimidation from some senior Churchmen”.

It should be shocking to us to hear that senior clerics are intimidating priests who simply wish to remain faithful to the unchanging teachings of the Church. Unfortunately, I was not surprised by this allegation.

Back in December the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales published a document that insinuated that priests who remain faithful to the Catholic doctrine and discipline of the sacraments are guilty of an attitude similar to the fourth century heresy of Donatism. It is difficult to see this as anything other than an attempt to intimidate clergy who are unwilling to go along with the radical agenda being pursued by senior clerics, particularly with regard to the reception of Holy Communion by the divorced and “remarried”, and with regard to attempts to undermine the teaching of the Church on homosexuality and same-sex unions.

The President of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Vincent Cardinal Nichols, indicated his openness to the reception of Holy Communion by the divorced and “remarried” at a press conference on 21st October 2014 despite authoritative and irreformable Church teaching to the contrary.

Cardinal Nichols’ views on, and approach towards, homosexuality and same-sex unions have been documented many times on this blog:
Please write to the following bishops who will representing the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales and inform them that you expect them to faithfully promote and defend the Catholic faith:

His Eminence Vincent Cardinal Nichols
Archbishop of Westminster
Archbishop’s House
Ambrosden Avenue

Rt Rev Peter Doyle
Bishop of Northampton
Bishop's House
Marriott Street

Rt Rev Philip Egan
Bishop of Portsmouth (substitute if one of the above cannot attend)
Bishop's House
Bishop Crispan Way

Please also write to your own bishops to state your expectation that they will remain faithful to Catholic teaching on human life, marriage and the family and their intimate and intrinsic connection to the doctrine of the sacraments.

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