Friday, 14 March 2014

To whom shall we go...

This is in tolerable
 
The scene is set in the synagogue at Capernaum. Jesus has just taught his disciples that He is "The Bread of Life". We pick up the narrative :
 
"When many of his disciples heard it, they said, ‘This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?’ But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, ‘Does this offend you?... The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe.’
 
Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go?' [1] And Jesus said to them "In the future, men shall be able to go to your successors, to lament my teaching and they, desiring a quiet life, will heed their cries, silencing those who offend with my teaching".
 
Silence of the lambs
 
This as yet undiscovered passage sheds light of the rather troubling news that a prominent Catholic blogger, Deacon Nick Donnolly of ProtectThePope.org, has been asked to refrain from blogging and observe a period of prayer and penance by his own bishop, Bishop Campbell of Lancaster. [2]
 
I am all for bishops constructively disciplining errant members of their flock but Deacon Connolly's analysis of events, if sometimes rather brash and perhaps lacking in the compassion which would be required for authentic dialogue, is right out of the pages of Catechism. Under Holy Obedience, Deacon Donnolly has rightly submitted to the request of his Bishop and I hope that in time, he will be allowed to continue his posts.
 
As I understand it, ProtectThePope.org was set up prior to the visit of Pope Benedict to the UK as a bulwark to the nonsense which was being reported in the media regarding the Pontiff. After the visit, it expanded it's brief somewhat to cover issues of dissent across the whole church, becoming in the process a sentinel for many who self identify as traditionalists. 
 
A read through ProtectThePope.org can be a rather depressing foray into Catholic blogging. The nature of its remit doesn't leave much room for posts which will enrich one's spiritual life (unless one is inclined to wax lyrical about the ordinariate or Extraordinary Form Mass in the comments section) and it does have the unfortunate tendency to foster a self-satisfied orthodoxy amongst its readership. For all these shortcomings however, I unfortunately recognise that given the current climate of dissent from church teaching, the blog does fulfil a purpose (I say unfortunately because divisions within the Church are a terrible blight on its mission to evangelise). The battle for future of the Church is increasingly being played out in the media and those faithful to the authentic teaching of Christ need voices that understand the terms of engagement.
 
The Usual Suspects
 
As Deacon Donnolly spends his time in prayer and reflection on his enforced gardening leave, his treatment is all the more galling as it is difficult to imagine a dissenting blogger being dealt with in a similar fashion. I recognise that the care of souls sometimes requires that the reeds blow in the wind but we have to stop short of breaking those reeds if the totality of the Faith is to be preserved and observed. Groups like ACTA (which include clergy) who are openly pursuing causes of dissent, thus undermining the teaching authority of the Church, appear to be given free reign in many diocese.
The Church will gain nothing by making accommodations on issues of dissent with the world. The world cannot reciprocate as it nothing to offer which could possibly ameliorate the loss of the Church's very identity. The more the Church acquiesces, the less relevant it will become, indistinguishable from a thousand other well meaning but ultimately impotent institutions - a vision of the Church which Pope Francis' has rejected as inconsequential NGO. 
 
[1] John 6: 60
[2] http://protectthepope.com/?p=10156

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