Sunday, 10 May 2020

A Signal Lack of Faith...

The Government originally said churches could remain open for private prayer. The intelligent response from the Bishops of England & Wales would have been something along the lines of "Thank you very much for recognising the centrality of Catholics' belief in Our Lord's Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament, oh, and, by the way, most churches are big enough to allow for social distancing - bigger than your average local supermarket, corner shop or Off Licence anyway - so can we at least allow people to attend Mass (without any social contact, or receiving Communion) if one happens to be going on when they turn up for private prayer please?"

Instead of this, the Bishops representatives promptly pointed out that the churches had been left off the list of organisations, groups and club meetings which had been banned, and declared that we ought to close the churches. This effectively handed the keys of Catholic churches over to the Government, while indicating that the Church hierarchy didn't consider it necessary for the laity to have any access to the Blessed Sacrament - at the same time reassuring us that Masses would still be being offered by the parish clergy. Individuals and groups calling for women's ordination accuse the Church of clericalism. Reserving access to the churches and Sacraments to the clergy is what I would consider to be real clericalism.

Please do not misunderstand me - I am not blaming priests and deacons who are saying the Mass in private under obedience to their Ordinaries, and I do not wish for them to stop offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass simply because the Laity cannot be present. I am blaming the Bishops for putting their clergy in such a position.

The Bishops having declared that being physically present in a church is not essential to the practice of the Catholic faith, it is hardly surprising that the Government is going to be reluctant to open them up again in a hurry - they were probably astounded by the ease with which access to churches for private prayer had been relinquished. It took Elizabeth I and James I considerably more effort to stop English and Welsh Catholics praying before the Blessed Sacrament - and in some parts they never fully succeeded.

And then, to cap it all, there was a tweet from the Naz Legacy Foundation promoting #RamadanAtHome. I'm very happy that people of other faiths are able to celebrate their own religious festivals - however, seeing Cardinal Nichols listed as one of the supporters planning to "attend" this online event was totally incomprehensible. I didn't notice any tweets supporting #PalmSundayAtHome #HolyWeekAtHome #GoodFridayAtHome or even #EasterSundayAtHome coming from any other faith leaders, and nor would I expect to. What is so special about Ramadan that Cardinal Nichols felt it necessary to join in with a virtual Iftar celebration? It may not have been intended as such, but it appears to indicate that the Cardinal considers other faiths to be just as valid as the Catholic faith.

Taken as a whole, this signals a real crisis in faith among members of the hierarchy.


Irenaeus said...

Agreed. It is a sad state of affairs.

pattif said...

Absolutely spot on, except I hope deacons aren't celebrating Masses!

Marc said...

I think I agree-- or, a growing inability for them to act on their faith, anyway, which has the same bad effects on their government of their dioceses etc etc. What a world!

Zephyrinus said...

I've had enough of our "so-called"
Religious Leaders (most of them).
I'm off to The Monastery.
As my Parish Priest said, when I told him: "That's wonderful.
There's only one problem".
"What's that ?", I said.
"The other Monks", he said.

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