Tablet columnists and English dissenters relish sticking the knife into Pope Benedict

The Daily Telegraph has published an article by Tablet columnist Peter Stanford under the title ‘Is there something rotten in the Vatican Court of Pope Benedict?’ Stanford and an assortment of Tablet writers and English dissenters obviously relish taking advantage of the uncovering of the papal butler as the source of the so called ‘Vatileaks’ to express their contempt on the Holy Father and their bitter scorn on the Holy See.

Here’s a sample of their poisonous comments:

‘If it sounds like murky machinations of the court of some medieval absolute monarch, then that is because it is precisely what it is, according to Robert Mickens, long-time Vatican-watcher and the Rome correspondent of the international Catholic weekly, the Tablet.’

‘“The Roman curia, the Vatican’s bureaucracy, runs on a model that is hierarchical and designed to suit the needs of 600 years ago. Today it is simply anachronistic and detached from reality. It badly needs reform, but that is never going to happen when you have a system where all the senior figures are clerics, there are no women in prominent roles, and it is all about the pecking order and an absurd obsession with secrecy.”

“Bertone is seen as an obstacle to needed reforms,” says Mickens, “and he has also been accused of appointing his cronies, particularly members of his religious order, the Salesians, to plum posts in the Vatican, and making them cardinals as a way of consolidating his power.”

“He [Pope Benedict] talked about transparency,” recalls Mickens, “but there has been no reform. And you have to ask transparent to whom? He doesn’t consult with bishops. He clearly feels the laity have no right to see anything. Presumably he means transparent to God.”

Dr Lavinia Byrne, a former nun who was disciplined by the Vatican in the 1990s for her writings on female ordination, believes that the absence of women in positions of authority at the papal court has profound consequences for its effectiveness and connection with the world beyond the Leonine Walls. “The culture of secrecy that so affronts people is reinforced by the fact that the Vatican is a boys’ club. In this day and age that is surely unhealthy. There are a few token women, but an institution that prizes itself as the elite of the Church is so male and so masculine in its outlook that it has ended up being out of touch and out of date.”

John Cornwall describes the Holy See as a “a palace of gossipy eunuchs” and “a village of washerwomen – they get down in the river, wash clothes, punch them, dance on them, squeezing out all the old dirt”. It is another of those descriptions that could be applied to this latest crisis.

And then to fuel the fires of those determined to suspect the worst, Benedict has appointed a member of Opus Dei to the commission of cardinals he has set up to look into the Vatileaks scandal. Anywhere else it would be regarded as a public relations gaffe for, in most people’s minds, Opus Dei is inextricably linked with Dan Brown’s lurid allegations in The Da Vinci Code.

“The curia is slowly but steadily imploding because it is so removed from the rest of the world,” concludes Robert Mickens. “This latest scandal is just another stage in that process.”

Protect the Pope comment: How long is Archbishop Nichols going to sit back and allow The Tablet to call itself  a ‘Catholic’ journal when its columnists regularly pour contempt and scorn on Pope Benedict and ridicule and disparage the authority and integrity of the Holy See?

The silence from Westminster about the very public betrayal of the Catholic Church by The Tablet no longer appears to be diplomatic and a respect of diversity of opinion in the Church and more like complicit agreement.  So is it acceptable to Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor and Archbishop Nichols that the See of St.Peter is so unjustly caricatured and disrespected by English Catholics in a national newspaper?

Will they defend the Holy Father and their colleagues in the Vatican or will there be the usual deafening silence, like when Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue was so unfairly mocked as a ‘fundamentalist’ in The Observer newspaper for teaching the Faith of the Church? Being silent doesn’t mean you go unnoticed my Lords.

23 comments to Tablet columnists and English dissenters relish sticking the knife into Pope Benedict

  • amator Dei

    To defend an institution and its officials whenever it is criticised simply because it is criticised is not being Catholic. It is the attitude characteristic of apologists for totalitarianism: the leader, the party, must always be defended and shown to be right about everything even, or rather especially, when they are wrong. Another favourite tactic of such apologists is, instead of answering the criticisms, attacking those who make them for being disloyal. It is bad enough that the central authority of the Church has been shown to be corrupt and dysfunctional. To continue defending it in this totalitarian way is a shameful betrayal of the loyalty real Catholics owe to the God of truth before the institutions and personnel of the Church.

    • Gurn

      If you have a problem with Rome then you ought to become a Protestant, we have no need of your righteous cynicism.

      • Gurn –

        Common! Calling out Judas for his betrayal doesn’t mean we out to abandon Jesus and then flock to a psuedo-Messiah.

        A person can have a problem with Rome without rejecting Rome’s doctrines on faith and morals, without rejecting Rome’s teaching authority and protection of truth, and without rejecting that She and She alone, is the Church established by Christ.

        Michael Voris rightly points out that there are wolves in sheep’s clothing inside the Vatican, who are hostile to the Pope’s conservatism and loyalty to tradition. It is such persons, that Catholics can rightly criticize.

        • Gurn

          Sure we can easily criticise clergy, I personally think Cardinal Hume was a disgrace; Vincent Nichols and Murphy-O’Connor are evasive and grovelling cowards when confronted by the media about Church teaching; even my own Bishop I sadly have doubts about but are you honestly suggesting that Pope Benedict is Judas!?

          I have heard next to nothing about this latest ‘vatileaks’ scandal, only that it is related to finances at the Vatican, but that’s all it takes for the liberal secular media to jump all over this case and do their utmost best to smear the Vatican and anything that stands so firm for conservatism, orthodoxy and tradition. Such values are contrary to secularists vain and arrogant worldview of individualism, hedonism, decadence and ugliness.

        • Gurn

          The thing is the Church is not a democracy, I know modern people freak out whenever they hear that something is not democratic.

          But my problem is more with The Tablet and I do not think any self respecting Catholic should even go near it. Allow me to quote some of it:
          “medieval absolute monarch” Sounds a lot like a derogatory remark towards the Holy Father.

          “there are no women in prominent roles,and it is all about the pecking order and an absurd obsession with secrecy.” I hope I’m not jumping the gun here but The Tablet does have a history of advocating women’s ordination, a blatant heresy, and at every opportunity it seems it tries to smuggle its agenda into a discussion.

          As for this stupid former nun who advocated women’s ordination she spouts the liberal and progressive party line, notice her’s and The Tablet’s constant disdain at the lack of females at the Vatican (which is to be expected as only men are called to the clergy) “Vatican is a boys’ club”, “the elite of the Church is so male”. Lets not forget to add a couple of progressive and liberal soundbites to all this, “In this day and age” and “out of touch and out of date”. We live in such a wretched and hopeless society.

  • caritas omnibus

    Well done Nick! As always you’ve got the finger on the pluse. Sadly, I doubt wether His Grace will act against an continual affront to Catholic journalism as that with which the Tablet has become synomous with; the so called Soho Masses are another point in fact that either there is no will, nor backbone in Westminister to put an end to such rot.

  • Burt

    Thank you Deacon Nick for bringing to attention those malevolent sentences from The Tablet.I completely agree with you. That shower need to be publicly rebuked for their consistent treachery To His Holiness by +Vincent and all the Bishops. I would not allow that rag anywhere near a porch table for sell if I were parish priest either.

  • James Hughes

    It’s a pity Benedict XVI doesn’t reintroduce the inquisition then we could happily burn this mob of whiners at the stake. Who the hell cares what these tablet creeps write anyway? Their day has been and gone and in case they haven’t noticed Christ’s church is alive and well and on the way to recovering from the ills inflicted on her by the ‘spirit of vatican II ‘crowd . My biggest gripe is that the Pope is too forgiving of these modernists . If they had any integrity they would push off to some other protestant type of group where they could no doubt be happy. Vive il Pape!

    • Deacon Nick

      James, I understand your anger, and the passion behind your words, but violence, in thought, word or deed, cannot be the way for Christians. Jesus commanded us to love our enemies. This doesn’t mean accepting their betrayal, but it does mean wanting the best for them, caring about their welfare. Of course we can only do this through the grace of Christ, and by seeking to participate in his virtues. I agree with you, that they should have the integrity to physically leave the Catholic Church, just as they have spiritually and intellectually left. Deacon Nick

    • Gurn

      I too understand your frustration, there was a point in my life when I had issues with the Catholic Church but I did not have the audacity and the nerve to campaign to have it changed in any way (unlike those selfish children at the Tablet), I understood that the Church had its principles. So I looked towards Protestant denominations.

      Eventually the Catholic argument persuaded me, the problem people seem to have is that the mean old Church demands too much of them spiritually, haha, don’t cry modernists. Bunch of children who have a problem with orthodoxy, that is what they are at The Tablet. I too would have little problem in giving them a piece of my mind (and fist) but again there is that very demanding teaching to love your enemies. So I instead endeavour to uphold orthodoxy so fervently that it utterly offends their sensibilities beyond comprehension, which is incredibly satisfying.

  • Karla

    The Tablet is like the National Catholic Reporter. Both have rejected Church teaching except the National Catholic Report has been publicly denounced by a Bishop in America and yet there is silence from the Bishops in this country about The Tablet.

    Archbishop Chaput, who is the Archbishop of Philadelphia has denounced the Tablet in 2009. ‘He accused The Tablet of “unhelpful and badly informed opinions” on American domestic issues – and knowingly misrepresenting Catholic teaching on abortion.’

    • just asking

      “The Tablet is like the National Catholic Reporter. Both have rejected Church teaching”

      I agree, and would not regard either publication as Catholic, but we do need to recognise that there is a fundamental difference between rejecting Church teaching and criticising those running the Church. Attacking the Curia for their position on, lets say, stem cell research is rejecting Church teaching. If you persist in doing that as an individual or a newspaper then you can no longer really call yourself a Catholic.

      Saying something like “Bertone is seen as an obstacle to needed reforms” is not challenging Church teaching and so whether it is a proper thing for Catholics to do or not comes down to whether it honest criticism. I have no idea if it is or not, but we do need to be careful I think about leaping to the Vatican’s defence all the time. You have a duty to defend church teaching, but you don’t neccesarily have a duty to defend Church bureaucracy. You don’t go around ex-communicating people just because they criticise you, you excommunicate people because they openly challenge church teaching. That distinction is vital if.

  • Michael B Rooke

    It might be noted that the National Catholic Reporter should not be confused with the National Catholic Register that is linked to EWTN the Catholic News Channel.

    The National Catholic Register proclaims the Wisdom and teaching of the Catholic Church. The web site for those who wish to sign up for regular emails can be found on this link.

  • Paul Waddington

    What I find amazing is the huge pile of copies of The Tablet that one finds stacked up at the back of Westminster Cathedral. The last time that I looked, I estimated that there were about 500 for sale there. It is very odd that such a newspaper should be on sale in any Catholic church or cathedral.

    My advice to all who read this blog is simply not to purchase this particular periodical, and to encourage others to do the same. The finances of the Tablet Trust are not all that strong and if sales were halved, I doubt whether it would survive a year.

  • JosephMatthew

    Good comment Deacon Nick. The likes of Peter Stanford, Robert Mickens, ex-Catholic nun Lavinia Byrne, John “Hitler’s Pope” Cornwall will do anything to bring discredit on the Holy Father who indeed has much to suffer. May Blessed Jacinta Marto intercede for him.

  • How did we get from `leaks` to a `corrupt Vatican, out of date hierarchy, etc. MIckems. Byrne and Co are so rapped up in their own private war of pride and arrogance that they `do not care a fig` about the plight of our young people and the disaster that `The Spirit of Vatican II` brought upon them. The fruits of this `Spirit` has been to destroy them sexually and socially by lies deceit and dishonesty in the handing down of not just the Catholic Faith but the teaching of Our Lord Jesus Himself. They love the world and all that the world stands for. Thank God for giving so many young people the grace to come back and take a look at what they wee cheated of by Mickens, Byrne, and Company. May I say to Amator Dei, it is not just for what they have done they stand condemened but for what they did not do. The Church was instituted hierarchical by Jesus Himself and we have no power to altar it to fit the needs of heretics. The door is always open for the humble and honest to come in, but it is also open for the proud and dishonest to go out. John Kearney.

  • Veritas

    The Tablet’s website lists its directors as follows: Chairman: John Adshead CBE 
, Robin Baird-Smith 
, Prof. Tina Beattie
, Mike Craven
, Julian Filochowski CMG, Ignatius Kusiak, Keith Leslie
, Susan Penswick
, Catherine Pepinster , Paul Vallely CMG, Cathy Galvin and Dermot McCarthy.

    At the recent public debate on “Same Sex Marriage” hosted by Catholic Voices, Prof. Tina Beattie spoke in favour of the UK Governement introducing “Same Sex Marriage”.

    Julian Filochowski CMG is the former director of CAFOD who entered into a Civil Partnership with an ex-Carmelite priest.

    John Adshead CBE is also one of the trustees of the Diocese of Brentwood.

  • Veritas

    From the Charity Commissioners’ website

    Financial summary for The Tablet (2007 – 2011)

    Financial year end (FYE) Income Spending Accounts received Annual Return/Update received

    31 Jan 2011 £110,890 £116,675 10 Oct 2011 10 Oct 2011

    31 Jan 2010 £111,055 £212,109 03 Nov 2010 03 Nov 2010

    31 Jan 2009 £111,353 £145,384 20 Oct 2009 20 Oct 2009

    31 Jan 2008 £105,366 £73,300 09 Oct 2008 09 Oct 2008

    31 Jan 2007 £43,030 £29,145 22 Nov 2007 22 Nov 2007

  • Veritas

    From the Charity Commissioners’website

    Financial summary for The Tablet (2007 –2011)

    Financial year end (FYE); Income ; Spending;

    31 Jan 2011 ; £110,890; £116,675;

    31 Jan 2010; £111,055; £212,109;

    31 Jan 2009; £111,353; £145,384;

    31 Jan 2008; £105,366; £73,300;

    31 Jan 2007; £43,030; £29,145;

  • Gurn

    What’s wrong with being detached from a world that is practically drowning in sin. Should the Church reform, become more like the world and get dragged down with it just like the Anglican Church did. Thomas More would have had The Tablet burned.

  • Robin Leslie

    What we are witnessing here is rivalry and the attempted appropriation of a ‘desired object’
    viz. papal authority. Renee Girard gives an apposite account of attempts by sectarian groups to
    victimize a scapegoat and appropriate his/her power. These centres of dissent in the Church
    believe that they are offering a reasonable critique of the Papacy and authority in the Church.
    If that were the case then we should be reasonable in acknowledging as just asking said above
    there is a distinction between criticising the exercise of power in the Church (see Power in the Church Concilium 1988 )and the rejection of particular orthodox teachings. In Renee Girard’s words such dissent is a misrecognition (meconnaissance) of what they are actually doing which is seeking by acquisitive rivalry to displace the current Papacy and
    acquire it for themselves. Unable to accept and acknowledge their own violent desires they
    clothe their actions in the language of smear and libel, often engaging in anti-Christian practices themselves. Once a cycle of vengeance and acquisitive mimesis (imitation)is in
    place violence and its effects make reasonableness impossible. That such a situation intended
    to introduce internal mediation (rivalry) into the catholic Church is undermining the
    traditional external mediation of the priesthood (and not just the Papacy)is patently obvious.
    What needs to be done in my view is that the Vatican will have to acknowledge the reasonableness of some claims for change (reform is I think a rather unfortunate and sullied word)less secrecy and more collaboration. I object to feminists and other dissenting women who
    are pushing a gender bender as I also object to homosexuals pushing the obviously unreasonable
    claim for gay ‘marriage’. Such a situation just introduces sectarian rivalries and internicine conflict of which there is no end. As far as the teachings are concerned no Catholic is ever required to consent against hisher conscience, provided of course that that conscience is fully and spiritually formed and not simply a humanist propaganda tool.

  • Michael B Rooke

    Cardinal Henry Edward Manning (1808–1892) wrote extensively on matters that are directly applicable to the Church today. He was an Anglican priest and was received into the Catholic Church 6 April 1851 and was ordained 14 June 1851. He was was chosen as Archbishop of Westminster in 1865, In 1875, Manning was created Cardinal.

    Manning attended the First Vatican Council (1868-69), and was a key player in helping to define the doctrine of Papal Infallibility. He received some votes in the conclave that elected Pope Leo XIII (reigned 1878-1903) Manning was influential in the formulation of the Encyclical Rerum Novarum the foundation document of the Church’s modern social teaching.

    Among his writings are two books written on the Holy Spirit from which arises infallibility.

    The Temporal Mission of the Holy Ghost written in 1865 before the First Vatican Council of 1868
    The Internal Mission of the Holy Ghost was written in 1875. Both books are available on line in pdf format links are provided in references at the end.

    In the Internal Mission of the Holy Ghost he wrote page 66

    3. Now there are two things necessary to a doctrine of faith or to an act of Catholic faith. One is, that God shall have revealed unto His Apostles the truth that we believe; and the other is, that His Church should teach it. This, shortly, is the reason why we believe. Every Catholic child is taught to say day by day an act of faith such as this : ” O my God, I believe all that Thou hast revealed,” for these two reasons, ” because Thou art the truth, and canst neither deceive nor be deceived ;” or, as Saint Augustine says, ” We believe because God is the truth Deus est veritas et verax He is the true God, truth Himself, and- He is veracious and He cannot deceive us. It is therefore necessary that our faith should terminate upon the authority of God, and if our faith terminates upon the authority of God, it is impossible that we can err. We have an infallible reason for believing, because it is the authority of God Himself Who teaches us what to believe.

    And now let us see, in passing, what is the consequence of rejecting this principle. How can they make acts of faith who misinterpret the revelation of God ; who criticise it by their own opinions ; who twist and turn and torture His revealed word into their own sense?

    These are not divine acts, but human.; they are acts rather of unbelief than of faith.

    The word of God is the word of God only in the sense in which God spoke it. The word of God turned and tortured and twisted by the criticism of the individual mind becomes the word of man it ceases to be the word of God.
    How, then, can they make acts of faith who, taking the revelation of God apart from the authority of the Church of God, interpret it for themselves and against the teaching of that authority? The material object of faith ceases to exist. Scripture misinterpreted ceases to be the Scripture. The greatest of modern impostures, and I will say the master error of modem heresies, is what is paraded as scientific history and scientific criticism in the matter of revelation.

    On infallibility he wrote

    “The indissoluble union, of the Holy Ghost with the Church carries these two truths as immediate consequences : first, that the unity of the Church is absolute, numerical, and indivisible, like the unity of nature in God, and of the personality in Jesus Christ: and secondly, that its infallibility is perpetual.”
    [1] Page 87

    “And therefore the infallibility of the Church is perpetual, and the truths of revelation are so. Enunciated by the Church as to anticipate all research,- and to exclude from their sphere all human criticism.”
    [1]Page 98

    “I do not know in what words the infallibility of the Church and the immutability of its doctrines can be more amply affirmed. For they declare (1.) that by virtue of the perpetual presence of this unction which is the Holy Ghost, the Church possesses the whole revelation of God ; (2.) that it is preserved by Divine assistance, unmixed, and in all its purity ; and, (3.) that it is enunciated perpetually through the same guidance by a voice which cannot lie. Now let us draw out the consequences of this truth. 1. The first is that all the doctrines of the Church to this day are incorrupt. I mean that they are as pure to-day as on the day of Pentecost ; and that, because they are the perpetual utterances of the Spirit of Truth, by whom the Church both in teaching and believing is preserved from error. Individuals may err, but the Church is not an individual. It is the body of a Divine head united indissolubly to Him. It is the temple’ of the Holy Ghost united inseparably to His presence.”
    [1] Page 219 seq.

    “The presence of the Holy Ghost in the Church is the source of its infallibility; the presence of the Holy Ghost in the soul is the source of its sanctification. These two operations of the same Spirit
    are in perfect harmony. The test of the spiritual man is his conformity to the mind of the Church.”
    [2] Page vi

    “The definitions of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God, of the Infallibility of the
    Vicar of Christ, bring out into distinct relief the twofold office of the Holy Ghost, of which one part is His perpetual assistance in the Church, the other His sanctification of the soul, of which the Immaculate Conception is the first fruits and the perfect exemplar.”
    [2] Page vii

    “But faith needs a divine authority, and a divine authority must be infallible. It is only playing with terms and using words of no meaning if we speak of a divine authority which is not infallible. Any teacher, be it a man or corporate body, which disclaims infallibility cannot be a divine teacher.”
    [2] Page 70

    “ ” Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” And the word of Christ is the voice of the living Church of God in every age, spreading from the sunrise to the sunset, speaking not only as a human and historical witness which has filled the world for eighteen centuries, but speaking as a supernatural and divine witness, because the Head of it is the Incarnate Truth Himself
    at the right hand of His Father ; and the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Christ, dwells in it and guides it, and speaks by it as the organ of His Voice.”
    [2 ]Page 73

    “God sustains and preserves His Church by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, the Fountain of all illumination and of all grace, in its conformity with His own divine intelligence. He guides the Catholic Church in the path of His eternal truth. That which we call infallibility is nothing but this : the Church cannot err from the path of revealed truth. And they who are faithful to the Church are illuminated and sanctified, even in the midst of the darkness and the distortion of this nineteenth century.”
    [2] Page 229

    The Temporal Mission of the Holy Ghost
    The Internal Mission of the Holy Ghost

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