Thursday, 2 December 2010

Outside the Magic Circle

How much of this is just gossip?

UPDATE: Another blogger comments:
I do not agree with every statement in the report. It seems to me that it is gilding the lily in parts. A little more evidence or facts would be helpful. I am genuinely concerned when wedges are driven, or attempted to be driven, between the Bishops' Conference and the people.
I have considerable sympathy with the last sentence.


Patricius said...

As I have said elsewhere, there are certain things that are real scandals, like the failure to defend the adoption agencies, the CES sex education surrender and the Soho masses but much else seems speculative or re-hashed Damian Thompson. I gather that he is now rehashing it himself!

Joe said...


Thank you for your comment.

Just to respond to one of your points. The outcome for the Catholic adoption agencies was not, in my view, a just result of Episcopal action (or inaction, as the case may be). The underlying question was about the commitment of the lay people responsible for the work of those agencies - and if they weren't "up for it" then whatever the Bishops said or did wasn't going to change the outcome. In that situation, I gain the impression that some Bishops acted in different ways than others towards their diocesan agencies, some co-operating more with a change of status and others being more outspoken. One can see these as legitimate prudential judgements - though they might perhaps have been made with a clearer judgement that the agencies with a new status were not Catholic in nature.

Fr John Abberton said...

The problem with that report is that it contained some truth - and enough of it to be worrying. There is much that it does not contain - on both sides of the argument. Some bishops are clearly prayerful and dedicated men and some are very loyal to the Pope. How much they are allowed to carry this forward in relation to the other bishops is another question. However, there are enough troubling questions for us to be concerned. The behaviour towards the retired Bishop of Lancaster is inexcusable (and well-known since he later spoke openly about it). The refusal to deal with bad catechesis in schools (now being addressed, but very "carefully"), the differences with Rome in the E/W bishops responses to some liturgical norms (going back to Pope Paul V1!), the poor acceptance of "Summorum Pontificum" and the proposed ordinariate (and see Fr Longeknecker's blog), the often poor showing at pro-life events etc. etc. All this leaves people scratching their heads and wondering just what the bishops are trying to say or do. As Fr Ray Blake points out, we often just do not know.

Joe said...

Fr John

Thank you for your comment, which is thoughtful as usual.

I think it is possible to gossip about things that are true - that is, to pass comment on them in a way that, if not unjust, is unhelpful. And I think this article is a classic of where discretion would have been rather better than website hits.

Patricius said...

Thanks for your response to my comment. You appear to suggest that the reason behind the bishops' failure to respond effectively in the adoption agencies' issue was due to the dodgy character of the lay people employed to run them. Or have I missed the point?

Joe said...


I do not think "dodgy character" accurately captures what I meant in my original observations. I recall reflecting at the time that a failing in mission by the lay faithful cannot, of its very nature, be entirely made up for by the ordained ministry. (The same consideration appears to me to apply to the situation of Catholic schools.) Individual lay folk may have their own views as to what constitutes an appropriate course of action for Bishops in this situation - but I do not think that it is correct to apportion "failure to respond effectively" to the Bishops in an unqualified way. I think there is a more subtle network of responsibility to which comment should try to do justice.

Doing justice to this wider network of responsibility in the context of the adoption agencies might also enable a greater collaboration of the lay faithful and Bishops in future.

Auricularis said...

So who exactly appointed these ineffectual lay people to positions in the first place?

It's hard to believe the truth when it hurts. It brings us out of our comfort zone.

Joe said...


Again, the word "ineffectual" is not a word I have used or wanted to use in this context.

Anonymous said...

zero says
On a lighter note
Sorry, I haven't read whatever it is that has caused so much comment but I do know that Francis (who hasn't commented for a while)is a member of the Magic circle but it has nothing to do with religion!