Princes in glass houses

What can you say about “The Rt Rev “ Patrick O’Donoghue, the Bishop of Lancaster,who recently opined in Britain’s Tory paper the Telegraph  that graduates are spreading scepticism and sowing dissent. Instead of following the Church’s teaching they are “hedonistic”, “selfish” and “egocentric”.

Turns out our brother Pat was not finished.He also claimed that influential Catholics in politics and the media were undermining the Church. Both groups have been compromised by their education

O’Donoghue  recently published a report on how to renew Catholicism in Britain,

First of all this is just the type of story right wing Catholicism loves and many of these Colonel Blimps have made it to the Tory top in the UK. I recently sat with one at a wedding—kids in what we call private schools,working out of a privatized spirituality which lacks a social dimension, reactionary when it comes to women in the Church and generally believing that we are moving to hell in a handbasket, “Prophets of gloom” as John 23 called them. They embrace the Church as the spotless bride, surrender all authority to the hierarchy and in general know little history and very little recent scriptural scholarship.

Why would the Telegraph highlight such an ill informed screed?

Not that the bishop is not right in being concerned about societal influences. The Church and its members live in society and are influenced—for good and bad by contemporary currents. I have no doubt that those of us in the hypercapitalist West have been corroded by materialism, quite possibly  by other isms as well.

However, the Spirit has been at work as well in our history. “The  “signs of the times” (God’s irruption in our world) have been abundant to many of us but the sclerotic institution has been slow to grasp them since the end of the Vatican Council (1965). Foremost among them has been the inbreaking of feminist wisdom—rejected by the Church. Catholic women are lagging far behind women in other institutions. This is “sinful” and it has hurt the Church immensely.

Another “sign” acknowledged in our secular lives has been “the cry of the earth”.So little action at the parish level, such poor pastoral planning, so few dramatic homilies as God’s body has been mercilessly assailed. Right to life apparently does not include the planet’s right to life.

IN Toronto recently the local bishop just called a conference on Humane Vitae! Catholics have long decided the birth control issue. Why is energy being placed here when we face such global problems demanding our care?

Too many of these JP ll bishops, good men like the bishop of Lancaster, absolutely missed the central understanding of both Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes…the Church must serve the reign of GOd. When it does the people will follow. As it is now the clericalunknownleadership has become so obsessed with itself that people are walking away—and men like O’Donoghue are refusing to look inward at the hierarchical, clerical, misogynist state of an aging  institution.


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