Cardinal Ouellet asks the English and Welsh Bishop if they sense ‘the pressure to obey men rather than God’

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect on the Congregation for Bishops, was invited to give the homily for the third Sunday of Easter to the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales at Villa Palazzola, Rome. The Cardinal’s words shed light on how he and others of the Holy See view the situation of the bishops .

The last couple of paragraphs are the most revealing and the most intriguing. What exactly is Cardinal Ouellet signaling to the bishops of England and Wales?

‘My brother bishops, you face many challenges In your apostolic ministry in England and Wales. Perhaps you can identify with Peter and John as they are dragged before the Sanhedrin to be pressured, threatened and even beaten to stop proclaiming the saving Truth of Jesus Christ.

Perhaps you can sense viscerally the pressure to obey men rather than God, to see yourself-as a mere manager or functionary rather than a disciple and an apostle.’

Cardinal Ouellet choice of quote from Pope Francis is also interesting asking them to consider if the Church has become a charitable NGO, but not the Bride of the Lord:

‘Pope Francis, also makes us feel uncomfortable. One thing I have noticed, even in my personal meetings with him, is that Pope Francis’ sole criterion is Jesus Christ. The Holy Father does not get distracted by peripheral considerations. He goes to the heart of things with simplicity and boldness. You recall that just two days after his election he said to the Cardinal Electors gathered in Rome: “If we do not profess Jesus Christ, things go wrong. We may become a charitable NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of the Lord …. When we do not profess Jesus Christ, we profess the worldliness of the devil, a demonic worldliness” (Homily from Missa pro Ecclesia with the Cardinal Electors, March 14,2013).

Cardinal Ouellet continues:

‘Yet the verbal surgery of the Incarnate and Risen Word and of His Vicar has a point: having cut away what is not of Jesus Christ, we can encounter Him and be united with Him in love and intimate friendship. Exposing the weakness and failure is the condition of possibility for creating communion with the Risen Christ and sharing in His Easter joy.

Protect the Pope comment: Why would Cardinal Ouellet ask the bishops of England and Wales whether they felt that they were being ‘pressured, threatened and even beaten to stop proclaiming the saving Truth of Jesus Christ?’ But even more importantly the Cardinal touched upon the question many of us have been asking these past years of our bishops,  can they withstand the pressure to obey men rather than God? It would be interesting to know why the Bishops of England and Wales invited the Prefect for the Congregation for Bishops to preach to them.


80 comments to Cardinal Ouellet asks the English and Welsh Bishop if they sense ‘the pressure to obey men rather than God’

  • Paul Smyth

    “It would be interesting to know why the Bishops of England and Wales invited the Prefect for the Congregation for Bishops to preach to them.”

    As Fr Blake says,

    “As far as E&W is concerned Benedict seemed to have deep understanding of both the history of modern Catholicism here, as well as, so I am told, by those who have discussed it with him, an understanding of our present problems too. As a polyglot I understand he was a regular, if critical, Tablet reader. I can’t imagine that Pope Francis is, or has bothered to find out more than he was told by Archbishop Nichols on his recent visit with our Bishops to the Holy See, which probably means we will be left to go our own sweet way.”

    I suspect this is what Cormac and Vin are hoping, I think what he is saying this that their visit was part of their ongoing war against Rome and the Nuncio. I hope he wrong and Cardinal Oulet continues to make sound appointments here.

  • Joannie

    What Cardinal Marc was doing was reminding these British and Welsh Prelates that they have a job to do that is difficult and even if it ends up like what happened to Archbishop Leonard in Brussels by those women activists he handled it well BTW the Bishops of England may have to choose facing what Leonard did or worse or to take the easy way out and “dilogue” and “compromise” both the same-sex marriage issue and the Law Of Sucession that involved intermarriage with a Royal Marriage bringing up a child Catholic with NO IFS ANDS OR BUTS. The Faith must be defended at all costs and the time for sitting on the fence and being “nice” is over.

  • Terry

    Paul, while Cormac and Vin think they’ll be able to get their way by swaying Cardinal Ouellet, I suspect they’re in for a rather nasty surprise! God be praised.

  • Ian

    ‘The will of god’ or ‘the power fo god’?

    That is the question. Judges has a slightly different slant:

    I live in a valley and drive a german car!! As an atheist I ‘believe’, or should that be ‘know’, I am safe and secure in who I am.

    • Michael B Rooke

      Sacred Scripture can be viewed in four senses[1], history, allegory, moral instructions, and the eternal significance that leads to and culminates fulfilling the prophesies in the salvic redemption through the Incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (anagogy)
      The writers of the Old Testament wrote truthfully that they expected Divine intervention to assist them in battle. The Divine intervention was however on Mount Sinai when [2] “God wrote on the tables of the Law what men did not read in their hearts”, “who has spoken through the prophets”[3] culminating in “the mystery of the Word made flesh, a new light of your glory has shone upon the eyes of our mind so that, as we recognise in him God made visible,we may be caught up through Him in the love of things invisible.” [4]

      [1] Catechism of the Catholic Church.
      118 A medieval couplet summarizes the significance of the four senses:

      The Letter speaks of deeds; Allegory to faith;
      The Moral how to act; Anagogy our destiny.

      Catechism of the Catholic Church 1062
      St Augustine
      ‘God wrote on the tables of the Law what men did not read in their hearts.’

      [3] Nicene Creed
      [4] From Preface 1 of the mass the Nativity of the Lord. Christ the Light.

      • Ian

        Let’s be honest; what is actually known? Something that has independent verification. You may refer to it. and even consider it, as ‘sacred scripture’ and that is your right but without any independent evidence all you have is human interpretation of something that we know is in print based on the myths of ancient times; but nothing at all that carries the burden of proof.

        No matter what fancy title you attribute there can be no objective assessment only the subjective. I’m sorry but the story of the Exodus is just that; for over forty years archeologists have crawled across the Sinai but have found not a single shred of evidence to indicate that a body of people numbering in excess of 1,000,000 passed by that way.

        In addition you also have to consider that at that time Canaan was an Egyptian province and, had it been true, the first thing that the Israelites would have come acroos when they reached the promised land would have been Pharaoh’s army.

        • Michael B Rooke

          Thank you for your reply. The fact that you choose to write on a Catholic blog site would suggest that you are are not as safe and secure that you think you are. The question might also be asked as to why you are here.?

          It might be noted that you choose to quote scripture as a polemic and throw up the fairy tale defence when analysis proves otherwise.

          To deal with your number query. You will find much scholarship on the logistics of Exodus and also translation of numbers. The numbers of 600, 000 plus family in Exodus 12:37 depends on the Hebrew eleph being translated as 1000. Without vowel it is identical to alluph ‘lp’ chieftain.

          “In the modern Hebrew Bible all numbers are written out in full, but for a long time the text was written without vowels [which] made it possible to confuse two words which are crucial to this problem: ‘eleph and ‘alluph. Without vowel points these words look identical: ‘lp. ‘Eleph’ is the ordinary word for ‘thousand’, but it can also be used in a variety of other senses: e.g. ‘family’ (Judges 6:15, Revised Version.) or ‘clan’ (Zechariah 9:7; 12:5,6, RSV) or perhaps a military unit. ‘Alluph’ is used for the ‘chieftains’ of Edom (Genesis 36:15-43); probably for a commander of a military ‘thousand’; and almost certainly for the professional, fully-armed soldier. [40] [Click Here”

          The site Ancient Hebrew Research Centre has an article on “How many came out of the Exodus of Egypt” and concludes if chieftain is used as a translation the numbers drop to around 7000.

          “The Hebrew text of Exodus 12:41; “about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children” reads “c’shesh me’ot eleph rag’liy hagebariym l’vad mitaph”. This could also be translated as “about six hundred chiefs (eleph) on foot are the warriors apart from the children”. We now have a group of warriors that would find the 600 chariots of Pharoah a formidable army. If we also assume that each chief (head of the family) included a wife and 5 children we have 6,000 people correlating the previous calculation of descendents from Levi to the exodus.

          By changing the translation of the word “eleph” to chiefs will also fit the census records of numbers.
          RSV Numbers 1:21 the number of the tribe of Reuben was forty-six thousand five hundred.

          The Hebrew of this passage could also be translated as; “The number for the tribe of Rueben is six and 40 (46) chiefs and 5 hundred”. With this alternate translation we have 46 chiefs and 500 family members. When we apply this method to the remainder of the tribes we come to a total number of 598 chiefs and 5,550 others (The standard translation of the complete census is 603,550, if the 3 is changed to a five, a possible error we have 605,550 very close to the 598 (2 short of 600) chiefs and 5550 people. Note, the Septuagint (LXX) does have a change of 5 to a 4 so the error is not out of the realm of possibilities).

          In summary, it would appear that the slavery of the Israelites in Egypt lasted 130 years and approximately 7,000 individuals traveled to Mt. Sinai.”

          A most important aspect of the Bible is not only the contents but the cross correlation that prefigure and all point to and witness the salvic redemption of Christ.

          Here is a link to The New American Bible on the site of the US Catholic Bishops that has extensive cross referencing as well as notes on the latest scholarship from the Dead Sea scrolls for you to study.

          • Ian

            Michael, I came across this blog from a link on here some months ago, and started to comment because of this post: If you read it, getting round my provocative stance, then you might begin to understand why I hold the views I do.

            I find it interesting that you use the phrase ‘fairy tale defence’, which is I happen to think that religion is, great stories but just a fairy tale developed a few thousand years ago when the inhabitants of this planet were totally ignorant and prayed to god(s) in the hope that they might be ‘saved’.

            However your arguments above are quite interesting because it is simply the translation of texts, ancient and modern, and interpretation of the data; so who is correct? But fascinating as it is and no matter what numbers you decide upon, it does not alter the fact that not one single shred of evidence has surfaced that even hints of the passage of large groups of people through Sinai.

            If your story were true would just 7000 former slaves have enough gold and the technology to make the ‘golden calf’? (The melting point of gold is 1064 degrees C.) And of those 7000 how many would be fighting men with the weapons and numbers to defeat Pharaoh’s army? Which did not happen.

            Please believe me when I say I am quite comfortable and secure with my beliefs and with who I am. Plus it’s an interesting experience. It has been suggested, albeit I suspect with tongue in cheek, that I am after ‘converts to atheism’, which is not true. If people want to assess their situation and change direction that is for the individual to decide.

          • Michael B Rooke

            @ Ian.
            With regard to the golden calf from Exodus 32:20 it would appear to have been constructed of wood with a gold leaf covering. Not much gold would have been required. Moses subsequently burnt it, beat it to dust threw the dust on to water and made the Israelites drink it.

            Exodus 32:
            20 then he took the calf they had made and threw it on the fire, and beat it into dust; this dust he sprinkled over water, which he made the Israelites drink.

            The melting point of pure gold is 1064°C if that is relevant for small quantities and in alloy form the melting point can be as low as 700°C for 9ct.

            It might also be noted that the Ark of the Covenant in Ex. 25:10 was “overlaid within and without with gold” so the gold leaf skills are recorded elsewhere in the Old Testament.

          • Ian

            We’re talking slaves here, they were in possession of gold? pure or otherwise, and skills to produce gold leaf? Always assuming of course they had the gold in the first place came from where? I know of no record that the Israelites had these skills; this is just another juggling session to make it fit what you would like to be true.

            Alloy of gold, now where did that come from? Gold plus what exactly? No guessing now! Try facts for a change. But even so 700C is still 1292F, that’s quite hot. A great story but you have no evidence and no archeologist has ever found any. That word evidence has a bad habit of cropping up, especially when there isn’t any.

            The Ark of the Covenant I understand was not made by fleeing slaves in the middle of the Sinai so if the Ark actually existed (there’s that requirement for evidence again) then gold could have been used.

          • Michael B Rooke

            Gold was obtained from the Egyptians
            Exodus 12:35-36

            35 The Israelites did as Moses had commanded: they asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing.

            36 The LORD indeed had made the Egyptians so well-disposed toward the people that they let them have whatever they asked for. Thus did they despoil the Egyptians.

            Here is a link to ‘gold’ in the concordance.

            The ancient Egyptians had skills in making gold foil and leaf c 3000 B.C.

            “The Egyptians used gold foil, and later gold leaf, from towards the end of the third millenium B.C. for the decoration of furniture and coffins (Lucas and Harris 1962, p.231)”

            Making foil and leaf is effected by hammering a gold bar. An ideal occupation for a slave.

            Charcoal fires are ideal for metalworking. Wiki quote below.

            “Charcoal burns at intense temperatures, up to 2700 degrees Celsius. By comparison the melting point of iron is approximately 1200 to 1550 degrees Celsius. Due to its porosity it is sensitive to the flow of air and the heat generated can be moderated by controlling the air flow to the fire. For this reason charcoal is an ideal fuel for a forge and is still widely used by blacksmiths. Charcoal is also an excellent reducing fuel for the production of iron and has been used that way since Roman times.”

  • Damask Rose

    Smackdown. Well done Cardinal Ouellet!

  • Bob Hayes

    Marc Cardinal Ouellet has made a clear re-statement of the ministry of bishops: their role is apostolic and evangelical not managerial and compromising. That he chose to address this commentary to the bishops of England and Wales was surely no coincidence.

  • Lynda

    For the most part, they are obeying men rather than God – so they probably aren’t feeling much pressure anymore.

    • Ian

      Great news for who?

      The church or the children who will have no choice in the matter?

      • ms Catholic state

        Great news for children, their parents….and the Church. Happy children getting a good education in a Christ-centered loving environment. No wonder so many parents….even secular ones….want their children in a Catholic school. I sometimes see their comments on Twitter. One mother said she failed to get her daughter into the local Catholic school…and the poor mite was bullied in the secular one she went to. I didn’t know what to say to her.

        • Ian

          If the RC faith is so good for everyone then why not let the children study all religions and when they have learned to think critically, make their own decisions. After all if your faith is as good as you claim it will stand head and shouilders above the rest for everyone to see.

          Sorry for the child who was bullied, children can be very cruel. I know I was bullied not only at primary school but at grammar school as well. But you make it sound as if bullying never takes place in Catholic schools which is nonsense; when I was a child many of my friends went to a Catholic school (St Patricks in Huddersfield) and believe me they were just as bad as everywhere else.

          • ms Catholic state

            In my own experience of Catholics schools….bullying was of the very mild variety. Nothing like the horror stories ememrging from our fortress like secular schools today. Notice how nearly every famous person says they were bullied at school….some even being assaulted! Were these assaults even dealth with by the Police?! But lay even a hand on an adult outside of school….and you can be charged with assault. What’s going on?!

            Also some years ago my local Catholic primary school was proud to have had an OFSTED report which stated they could find no bullying there. I looked but couldn’t find any mention of bullying (good nor bad) in its most recent report. I guess Catholic children are more likely to have heard…’Do unto others as you would be done by’.

          • Rifleman819

            Ian ,
            Just what do you think goes on in Catholic schools?
            In RE in virtually all schools , including RC ones, we follow the agreed syllabi for GCSE/PSE which is often a LA agreed syllabus-and both CoE/RC schools have “confessional” RE contents as well.
            In all other respects Church schools part-funded by LAs follow the National Curriculum and are regularly subject to OFSTED inspections.

            Of course bullying happens across all schools-and of whatever stripe -but in all probability in most Church schools it would be picked up earlier because pastoral care/discipline on average(on average, mind)are probably tighter than in the majority of LA Community schools.
            I did 22 years as a teacher across a variety of secondary schools and of course there are huge variations-but as I blogged earlier-if Catholic schools are so appalling -why are nearly all of them oversubscribed?

          • Ian

            RE or RI was on the syllabus at my old school but there was no exam attached, and certainyl well before the days of OFSTED et al. The school was a ‘chantry’ school and not a ‘church’ school so there was no direct input from any church, in fact the local vicar is now the school chaplain and he turns up at the OB annual reunion.

            Catholic schools I would imagine are in demand from Catholic parents who, like most Catholics, are probably on a guilt trip, mainly non-existent thought crimes, and from those that I have met over the last 60+ years have told me of the pressure from their priest. I know my grandfather was, yes he was RC, or at least had been christened in the RCC but although my mother and her siblings were also christened into the RCC he refused to bring them up as RC; and that as pre 1920, that took some guts.

            I worked for many years in an area of Leeds with a high RC population with a hell-fire-and-brimstone priest and most of his ‘lambs’ were living in fear. Talk about a loving god.

      • Rifleman819

        Ian ,

        Your rather pointed comment about choice and Catholic schools is interesting.

        Children and their parents have the same choices in LEA community schools-so I don’t follow your argument.

        You seem to have swallowed the stereotypical line on RC Schools fed to and by Guardian bloggers to each other-lambasting a school system the vast majority have no knowledge of.

        I watched the hyperbole of anti-Catholic rhetoric on church schooling and then opposed a simple question-if Catholic schools are such dens of indoctrination…why then do nearly all have desperate parents wanting to get their offspring into them?
        There a period of prolonged silence until the “comments are now closed” message was put up by the moderators.
        Funny that?

        • Ian

          Sorry Rifleman, parents have the choice children do not; they may make pleas to their parents but, it is the adults who decide not the children.

          The grammar school I attended was, or had been when it received its’ Royal Charter from King James I in 1608, a chantry school but apart from morning assembly and one 40 minute period of religious instruction there was neither any form of compulsion nor even any suggestion that we should attend any place of worship. As far as I am concerned there is no need to have religion in schools never mind to have any religious organisation in charge or to control the input to children.

          Evolution has hard-wired children to heed figures or authority, when you are growning up, adults have a bearing on your belief systems and what is learned at an early age usually, for good or bad, sticks with you into adulthood, at which time habits cqan be hard to break.

          I have no experience of the Guardian bloggers so I will bow to your experience; obviously it got up your nose.

          Why do parents want to get ther children into Catholic schools? Seemples, if children are exposed to a secular environment there is a good chance that their Catholicism may be diminished or severely diluted. and that would never do, would it?

          But to re-iterate my earier point, if Catholicism is so good why not wait until children have been taught to think crtically and then let them choose, if it is so good it will stand head and shoulders above everything else.

          • Rifleman819

            You could apply the same argument toDawkins.Why can you read -listen or have an identity …answer because -like it or lump it -you have a Christian heritage(which you reject-as is your right).
            So how do you stop Catholic children being exposed to the secular environment?-C’mon Ian -think this through -I got up when I was 11 -caught the secular 31 bus to Notting Hill gate and the secular 12/88 down towards Holland Park….had one of the finest educational experiences in London -then when home.
            Your description of your school is sadly -possibly -a classic difference between Anglicanism as the State religion and the Catholic faith.
            Again -to test your theory then -why are there 1.2 Billion Catholics? All cloned robots? Vatican cybermen?oops-cyberpersons?
            If you want indoctrination try the manmade systems that are the totaliterian children of the Enlightenment-Hitler , Stalin, Mao, Kims various-not much “freedom ” there is, is there?
            Ian -have a look at my school’s website-Cardinal Vaughan W4 might give you an insight into what a Catholic education really is all about.
            There are no Catholic madrassas…..but you will find that there is an ethos about a good Catholic school that is difficult to define exactly.But it is distinctive.
            We all have free will and are made in the image and likeness of God….and we pray for some of his most intolerant creations-including the mad mullah of north Oxford.
            No -Guardian bloggers don’t get up my nose ‘cos their general ignorance about Catholic education is so wilfully at variance with reality it’s funny! Some very solemn bloggers on the Guardian actually !
            Ian -you are quite correct-diluting of the Catholic faith would never do:For we believe that it is the salvation of souls that is at stake.
            And there was never any dilution of scientic socialism , was there? They shot you.

          • Ian

            Christian heritage? Remeber that the commandments were from the OT.

            But you make it sound as if morality springs from the bible when it obviously does not. In fact if you take your morality from the bible you have a serious problem.

            I’m pleased that you enjoyed your time at school.

            1.2 billion cloned robots? I wouldn’t have put it that way, but with the RCC’s stance on birth control it will continue. What a pity that the males who control the RCC do not accpet a woman’s right to choose and control her own reproductive system. It really is nothing to do with anyone else.

            Without the enlightenment we would still be living on the ignorance of the dark ages. We would still be subject to the whims of the ignorant and possible the inquisition although thankfully it was never alunched in this country. However you could still be executed for posession of a bible. The power and control of the RCC – Happy days!

            The idea of ‘free will’ is now being questioned. Scientists have established that our brians have actually reached the decision 6 seconds before we become aware. Don’t ask me to debate that!

            Made in the image and likeness of god? Sorry, evolution, whether you like it or not is a proven fact. This is a free download of Darwins book: On the origin of species – In fact mammalian anatomy proves evolution.

            I don’t accept the existence of a ‘soul’. At the point of conception there is just the fusion of the sperm and the egg; where does god stick it? It is our brains that is the centre of our thought, where we do our processing but, the central nervous system does not start to develop for many days so, where is the ‘soul’ deposited there is no mechanism for storage, or are you trying to say that it is somehow stored in the blastocyte and then migrates when the brain is capable or storage, because that is quite a long time, and completely wrong.

      • Michael B Rooke

        In the onslaught of atheism today one of the tacks is that children should not be given religious education until they are older. This is an atheist form of Gnosticism which held that salvation was by knowledge.
        This is diametrically opposed to the teaching of Jesus Christ. Cardinal Manning* spoke of this when he quoted of Psalm 119.99.
        The Psalmist says, ‘I was wiser than my teachers because I kept Thy commandments.’

        “The mind of a little child is larger and more expanded for the conception of revealed truth than the mind of philosophers and sceptics, who narrow their understandings with unreasonable and pertinacious doubt. …. In truth, little children are the nearest to the Saints ; and those who have childlike minds are the most saintly. Our Divine Lord has, twice over, taught us this.
        He said, ‘ Unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven ;’ (Mt 18:3) and again He said, ‘I confess to Thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth’ that is, I thank Thee, ‘because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent’ in their own eyes and hast revealed them unto little ones (Mt 11:25-26)”

        The Glories of the Sacred Heart. Page 225 -Henry Edward Manning Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster. (1808–1892)

        St Thomas Aquinas writes that Faith is fittingly proposed to all mankind as if it depended on intellectual ability and diligent inquiry few might have the time or ability to attain it.

        [6] Beneficially, therefore, did the divine Mercy provide that it should instruct us to hold by faith even those truths that the human reason is able to investigate. In this way, all men would easily be able to have a share in the knowledge of God, and this without uncertainty and error.

        7] Hence it is written: “Henceforward walk not as the Gentiles walk in the vanity of their mind, having their understanding darkened” (Eph. 4:17-18). And again: “All your children shall be taught of the Lord” (Is. 54:13).

        ( Aquinas Summa Contra Gentiles Book 1 Chapter 4 )

        • Ian

          Methinks Michael, thou dost protest too much.

          ‘the onslaught of atheism’. Man the barricades there’s an atheist on the prowl!!

          The trouble that you’re in as I see it is that having a strong faith, an absolute truth, one which you consider to be inviolable means that you can only look backwards into history. You have no new ammunition which aint good. If that were not the case you would not have to quote Aquinas as if time have stood still for the last twenty centuries or so.

          It is true that the mind of children is a blank canvass upon which he or she writes; and that the mines of philosophers and sceptics hold a narrower vision but, that is because they have a wealth of experience; they question, they doubt, they think, they ask for proof, whereas children are the more trusting, after all why would an adult, or other person, who that child sees as in authority want to harm them. (Catholic priests and children?)

          As far as point (6) is concerned the very idea that someone who does not live their life with ‘a share in the knowledge of God’, would live it in ‘uncertainty and error’ is, quite frankly silly.

          I don’t understand why you have posted point (7). (I cannot believe with what you have posted here you are anything other than a devout Catholic, and according to :Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled). As the man we now call Jesus Christ was a Jew and all others Gentiles that puts you squarely in the Gentile box!

          • Michael B Rooke

            Truth is eternal. It was true when Jesus spoke and when the point was reinforced by St Thomas and by Cardinal Manning in the C19th. Anything else is relativism.

            St Paul spoke of the desire for something new in 2 Tim 4:3 when he spoke of people having itching ears – a desire to hear something new.

            3 For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires* and insatiable curiosity, …

            * [4:3] Insatiable curiosity: literally, “with itching ears.”

            To address your problem of Mt 5:17
            There are substantial footnotes on this link

            However if you fast forward to the end of St Matthew’s Gospel you will have your reply in full.

            18 Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
            19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit,
            20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

            St Peter went on to preach the Gospel and ended up in Rome ( 1 Pt 5: 13)

          • Ian

            Michael, I have read the bible and many other books as well including the koran and we are starting from completely opposite viewpoints.

            You are making several assumitions that I reject.

            If, as you appear to belive. there is an omnipotent, and therefore by definition, omniscient being that existed outside of time and space as we know it, then at some point it would have been known that at this precise moment in time I would be sitting at my computer terminal typing a response to your comment. That is just logical.

            That deity would also have known that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution was correct, that homo sapiens (thinking man) was the latest step in out evolution and that we are linked to every other living thing on the planet. Logically therefore there was no biblical Adam and Eve, and certainly no Garden of Eden as described in Genesis. Therefore there could have been no original sin. So why the need for a crucifixion?

          • Michael B Rooke

            If we draw time lines the differences can be seen.

            The first act of a Christian is to accept that Jesus Christ is good. You can put biblical references to that for example Rev 3:20 “Behold I stand at the door and knock..” Nothing is forced. Entry to Faith is by choice.
            Jesus is the good shepherd in John 10:9 Entry to the sheepfold is only through the good shepherd.
            “I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.”
            The consequences of accepting Jesus as “ the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”(Jn 14:6) is made clear in John 14:23
            “If anyone loves me he will keep my word and my Father will love him and we will come to him and will make our abode with him”

            That Christian experience is to feel the presence of Christ. That is amplified in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament and more so in the Eucharist as many will testify. It is logical because Christ is the Logos. It is reason because God is reason. For a Christian therefore the highest act of reason is to accept Faith because Faith completes reason going to its source.

            The belief in an absolute standard follows and considering a premise of relativism makes no sense because there is no fixed reference point. What is true today may be changed tomorrow.

            There is no reference point in atheism for an absolute. Even the Aquinas proofs of the existence of God should lead a consideration of at least agnosticism but an a priori decision to reject God excludes that. The rejection of God may be because of a misunderstanding about the true nature of God. As Benedict XVI said (16 Jan 2013) “The desire to know God truly, that is, to see God’s face, is innate in every human being, even in atheists.”.

            We pray that you may be able to see the face of God.

          • Ian

            “Entry to Faith is by choice.” So is the door marked ‘exeunt’. At the age of eight I reached the conclusion that the biblical miracle stories were jusst that and I found them silly. My mother accepted this and I ceased to attend Sunday School and, although I ‘played the game’ for some time I eventually realised that I had no faith at all. If you have read my earlier posts from you will see why.

            There are many saying attributed to Jesus including: Luke 19:27 ‘But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me’. Such a nice man!

            You mention an ‘absolute standard’. How can you have absolutes in the bible when there are so many contradictions?

            If being an atheist is so bad, so immoral, why is it that I am who and what I am? How am I able to function as a husband, parent, neighbour, friend, businessman? Because according to your philosophy I need Jesus and God in my life but, there is no Jesus, or if it comes to it, God shaped hole in my heart, brain or any other part of my anatomy or psyche.

            ‘fixed reference point’, what ‘fixed reference point’. The only way that might apply is if you accept that Jesus was a Jew and that he came to support the law and honour the prophets. So do you, as a devout RC do the same? Do you really follow the law, all 613 commandments? That’s six hundred and thirteen by the way: or, is the absolute slipping, you know relativistically speaking. (if that’s a word).

            If the transubstantiation was accepted as a metaphor that I might understand your views but to accept it as real is, in my honest opinion, nonsense. The very idea that a complex mix of chemicals that we call wine can change completey into another totally complex compound called haemaglobin and that a simple wafer of meal and water can also change realities and become living flesh beggars belief.

            Using the word ‘logos’ isn’t that just a posh philosphical term that means different things to many people? And to use the circular argument that something is ‘reason’ because god is ‘reason’, is just that, circular and not of evidential value. And anything that you can assert without evidence I can refute in the same manner.

            Finally, why I should I accept that I have an innate wish to ‘know God’, or to see ‘god’s face’ when, what I believe is that there is ‘no God’.

        • ms Catholic state

          Thank you Michael….this is very interesting and informative. I wonder how many Catholic head-teachers know of this?!

          • Michael B Rooke

            @ ms Catholic state

            To comment on your post in relation to St Thomas Aquinas and Cardinal Manning being taught in schools. I recall being taught of St Thomas in my school days well over 50 years ago. I only came across the writings of Cardinal Manning in recent years when researching the origin of Rerum Novarum and was surprised that Cardinal Manning had a significant input. When looking at his writings many of my school lessons jumped out of the pages especially in his devotion to the Scared Heart and while I don’t ever remember Manning being mentioned as such the influence of Manning I can now see evident. Many of his books are still in print and on line to conveniently load into PCs, Ipads and such. The style of Cardinal Manning was to include instruction notes or briefings in his books to the clergy of his dioceses.

            In addition to the list on the on the website of the Cardinal Manning Society

            there is also a book on line Petri Privilegium, which was a series of three pastoral letters written to the clergy of the diocese when he was Archbishop of Westminster. To quote the then Archbishop Manning himself in the Preface

            “THE THREE PASTORAL LETTERS, now collected in one volume, were written at separate times, and contain three distinct parts of the same subject; that is to say, the Infallibility of the Roman Pontiff.

            The first, which treats of the eighteenth Centenary of St. Peter’s martyrdom, simply affirms the doctrine of Infallibility as it has been enunciated and taught by the Theological tradition of the Church.
            The second traces the line of the historical tradition by which the same Catholic doctrine
            has been affirmed.
            The third states and explains the doctrine of the Infallibility of the Roman Pontiff as it has been defined by the (Ecumenical Council of the Vatican.
            Taken as a whole the three Pastorals present at least an outline of this revealed truth, now happily for ever placed beyond controversy or doubt by the divine authority of the Church. They record, also, the indiction, the prelude, and the first four sessions of the first Council of the Vatican, the nineteenth (Ecumenical Synod of the Catholic Church, which will leave its indelible mark upon the future, as the Council of Trent has left its impression upon the past and present, of the Christian world.
            CHRISTMAS 1870.”

            May Cardinal Manning be soon Beatified and Canonised.

          • Michael B Rooke

            typo Sacred

  • Paul

    This is a clear indication that Rome is taking notice in what is taking place in the UK.

    The Bishops have had too much freedom for too long. The few Orthodox Bishops that are speaking out and keep the English Catholic Faithful (in their different levels on believing the Faith) from collapsing totally.

    ++ Nicholls should not be awarded the status of Cardinal. Enough damage has been done by him and Eccleston Square with their support of homosexual Masses and their liberalism. When Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor speaks out publically, we all hold our breath – what calamity he will cause next?

    The English Bishop’s Conference Members need to get their act together. Many Bishop Members fall short of what is expected of them.They are a shambles and lack leadership which is reliable and worthy of Rome.

    Time to act and now is the time to follow Rome. If any Bishop does not want to follow Rome – then retire.

    • Rifleman819

      Paul ,
      You are correct,
      My estimation is that Card M-C promised ++ Vin ages ago that he would do all in his power to obtain the red hat that has traditionally gone with ADW.
      Sadly both are bunglers of the highest order, one much more well-meaning than the other I feel.
      But what the tiny coterie within the Bishops’ Conference of E and W fail to realise is that they don’t “own” promotions and translations in quite the way that they did before.
      The salad days are over.
      ++Antonio Mennini probably realises how cosy the old ways were….and the duffers that were over-promoted as a result.
      The best hope for traditional Catholics is the incompetence of several of our present episcopate….some of whom couldn’t stage a coup in a Revolution-they would seize the wrong radio station for a start.

  • Ian

    The three monotheistic religions all pray to the god of Abraham, irrespective of whether you refer to Yahweh, God or Allah and, all three believe that ‘they are the one true religion’. Well, let’s face it if they didn’t there wouldn’t be much point would there?

    So, why is your faith system the ‘one true religion’? Not that I accept there is any true faith but, I am intrigued.

  • Amanda Peter

    Ian, who says we all pray to the SAME one God? The three monotheistic religion all believe in One God but what and who really is that One God?? Christians believe in the Trinitarian God as revealed to us by our Lord Jesus Christ. We pray to the Three Persons of the One God. Who do people of the other two faiths address their prayes too?? Do they pray only to God the Father?? Or only to God the Holy Spirit or only to God Incarnate Jesus Christ Our Lord ???
    St Thomas Aquinas said we have the Truth when the thought in our mind corresponds with the reality that is outside of us. I believe the reality out side of us is that there exists God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. To have a personal relationship with each person of the Trinitarian God like Our Lady is my goal. Our Lady is daughter of the Father, Mother of the Son and Spouse of the Holy Spirit.

    • Ian

      The God of Abraham?

      Are you saying there was more than one, or that Abraham preyed to more than one, although the occupants of the levant were polytheistic.

  • Ian

    We are the only religion that claims that God became Man in order to establish the One True Religion, which is the fulfilment of all that Abraham looked forward to – the coming of the Messiah and the Universal Church in which both Jews and Gentiles find Salvation.

    If you read the Magnificat, sang by Our Lady, you’ll see the Catholic Faith.

  • SteveD

    The majority English and Welsh bishops’ attitude was summed up by Bishop Conry who said that they weren’t going to get into any disputes that they could not win. Doesn’t sound much like Saint Paul does it?

  • Rifleman819

    Ian ,
    Just a second thought too.This weekend I travelled from the deepest depths of the West country to attend an Old Boy/Old Girls’ reunion event at Cardinal Vaughan school in Kensington -it was a wonderful evening -with an age span from 20-80 years.Men and women who wanted to be there-not forced -not coerced -not abused but deeply grateful for the magnificent education and spiritual formation they had received.
    Oh …and the signwriting on the School Honours Boards had had to be reduced in order to fit the dozens of Oxbridge entrance results, London Medical schools and Trinity Dublin into the spaces left.
    Yep-Catholic schools are bloody awful -aren’t they? You only have to ask a Guardian reader, don’t you?

  • Athanasius

    Was +Conry wearing his newly-acquired zuchetto when he said that, or did he wear it only for effect (which was probably lost on the pope anyway). It comes to something when even he is prepared to overcome his principles to seek the red hat for ++Nichols. Hopefully the Pope can see through these charlatans. The nuncio certainly seems to have done.

  • Ian

    Laurence, when you consider the the amn known as Jesus Christ was a jew had no intention of starting any new religion, in fact exactly the opposite: I think you will find from this that Abraham already believed he followed the one true religion. Howevr, there are many references of ‘gods’ in the Bible with Yahweh being one of the, or, the principal god.

    The ‘christian’ cult only began after Saul of Tarsus got in on the act.

    • Bob Hayes

      As you self-identify as an atheist you will presumably not believe in an afterlife and therefore will value the (unknown) time you have left before a major bodily failure results in death and ‘nothingness’. I welcome the fact that you are using some of that indeterminate time to explore Catholicism and Christianity Ian. You are evidently curious and inquiring. That is good: inquiry can lead to the finding of God and, through the Son, attaining salvation. I will pray for you.

      • Ian

        What a little ray of sunshine.

        In 1992 I was being investigated for suspected coronary heart disease, the last in the battery of tests was an angiogram; an invasive procedure whereby under local anaesthetic an incision is made in the femoral artery and a catheter inserted into the femoral artery and a reactive dye injected into the various coronary arteries in sequence. I suffered a well documented but fortunately relatively rare cardiac arrest. Fortunately I was one of the 60% that recover from such an event. I was jump-started ie defibrillated 40% do not recover and stay dead. I did not suffer from hypoxia ie shortage of oxygen and I can tell you that there is nothing there, so your description of ‘nothingness’ is quite accurate.

        But my first high risk event occurred 67 years ago next week when, at the age of 6 weeks, I suffered from double-pneumonia. There were no anti-biotics available at that time but I pulled through. So my series of major bodily failures, or dices with death, began at an early age abd have continued at regular intervals ever since and, will no doubt end as all lives must in my demise. Am I frightened of being dead – NO! But as Woody Allen, I believe said, ‘I don’t want to be there when it happens’.

        But please do not make the mistake of thinking that I am exploring Catholicism or christianity in general with a view to adopting any religious belief, I’ve already done that in fact I was 8 years of age when I came to believe that the miracles as told in the bible were just stories. I have found nothing in my studies in the interim years to make me change my views, in fact just the opposite. Everything that I have found re-inforces my views that there is/are no god(s).

        Live each day as if it were thy last because one of these days you’ll be right.

        You will never please everybody but try and leave the planet with more people thinking positive things about you then the negative.

        Thank you for your thoughts but you might find this interesting: The 2006 Harvard study on prayer:

    • Michael B Rooke

      The conversion of Saul of Tarsus did not appear till Chapter 9 of the Acts of the Apostles.
      Saul wrote epistles – letters not Gospels.

      There are more notes on the US Catholic Bishop’s Conference web site

      In Acts 9 Jesus appears to Saul and asks a question relevant to all of us and especially to atheists.

      3 On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him.
      4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
      5 He said, “Who are you, sir?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
      6 Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.”

  • Ian

    St Paul’s letters account for a few of those documents held and bound together by the Holy Church to form the New Testament.

    You are perhaps overlooking the Letter of St Jude, the two letters of St Peter and the three letters of St John. Neither did St Paul write the Gospels, penned by Sts Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Not to do down St Paul, but there are plenty more witnesses to the Truth of the Church founded by Jesus Christ on St Peter than just St Paul who ‘formed the cult’ of Christianity.

    If anybody formed the ‘cult’ of Christianity, it was Christ. Otherwise, this ‘cult’, or rather preaching the Risen Christ ensured the death of most of its adherents at some time in their Church career.

    Sorry, but you’ll simply have to do better than that Ian.

    • Ian

      According to the stories in the bible Jesus was a radical, but nevertheless a Jew, there isn nothing to support the idea that he wanted to become the centre of a ‘cult’, yes he had followers but he was never anything more than a jew; and a jew who believed that the world would shortly be coming to an end. (the first of many)

      Again the fact that many died is tragic but they lived in a violent world, and also the fact that from fragile beginnings to the ‘modern’ day so many now believe does not, and can never, make that belief a fact. Evidence can confirm belief, but belief without evidence, no matter how strongly that belief is held is merely pretense.

  • Ian

    I never said that Catholic schools were bloody awful, I just had some firneds who thought so and, I didn’t attend one either, neither am I a Guardian reader.

    All good schools have their share or graduates and former puplis of which they can be proud but at a guess I would imagine that those who attended to OB reunion did so because they wanted to renew old acquantances and not because they were Catholics.

    At my old school we didn’t reduce the size of the writing on the Honours Boards, we just erected additonal boards.

  • Rifleman819

    Ian ,
    Yes …and the fact that I think it was a minimum of 7-9 applications per available place at my former school might suggest that the educational and spiritual development it offered was, is and will be cherished by parents, pupils past , present and to come.
    Another problem with my school is that it now has 954 pupils squeezed into accom designed probably for half that number.And its academic prowess means squeezing names onto Honours Boards.
    Additionally since the 1902 Education Act the state has agreed partial underpinning of VA/VC church schools as part of the democratic process and the various rights of parents of all denominations and none-to have their children educated in church schools or not, as the case may be.
    But having worked for half a lifetime in education I wear no rose-tinted specs about all Catholic schools-they follow the standard Bell curve of awful, mediocre, good , vg and outstanding.

  • Rifleman819

    Ian ,
    Where do you get the ideas about evolution and the RCC? For Biblical literalism try the Southern Baptists -not Rome.
    You need to study the rather bloodied history of the Enlightenment-hardly “enlightened”
    OT-NT-There is an overlapping heritage.AD 313 Edict of Milan-Constantine adopts Christianity.AD597 Augustine sent by Pope Gregory to England from Rome.
    At least 1400 years of Christian heritage in our culture , laws , art, literature and music.
    Free will -we could be here all night debating this but are we now a more civilised society than say , 40 years ago?
    But as an atheist if one’s own morality is merely a construct and there is no God…what is to stop you are me axing to death fellow passengers to death on the Central Line, just because it seemed o.k. for us to do so at the time?
    No right , no wrong -merely the random interactions of random carbon cells animated by an electro-cardiac pulse? Is that really what you are asserting?

  • Rifleman819

    Ian ,
    I just love your “guilt trip” assertion-It’s wonderful that you appear to believe that?
    I can accept that you reject the notion/belief /concept of a God-Creator.
    Why do you seem unable to accept that 1.2 Billion others on this planet do not agree with you?
    I have never as a cradle Catholic felt anything but admiration for the vast majority of the priests who taught me and ministered to me.Never fear , I can assure you.(Our bishops engender sometimes rather different emotions)
    I never knew atheists had such fervid imaginations.

    • Ian

      Wonderful or not and, whether you are on a guilt trip or not is irrelavant, many Catholics are. I have known many Catholics, obviously far less then you do, but guilt trips are alive and well in Catholicism. The daughter of a long time friend married a Catholic man who had divorced his wife (I don’t know the reasons why, human beings are very complicated) they have an adult son but he began distance himself and tell her that they weren’t really married and never had been and he started to go to mass. His children from his first marriage had always treated Chris with contempt, and some of the name s they called her were disgusting. They are now separated and have been for several years. The guilt trip he is would be an obstacle to high-flying aircraft. This is just one of many that I have come across, so perhaps it’s you that is missing something.

      Of course I accept that atheism is in a minority. Billions of people believe in ‘the one true god’ and in particular, their version of it. They can’t all be correct but they can all be wrong.

      For millenia ‘people’ as in everyone thought the earth was flat, now that’s down to a few.

      The fact the millions, or billions, of people believe something as true can never make that belief a fact.

      The fact that you, and millions or billions or others, have a belief that gives you solace does not make your belief true, it just makes it comforting in the same way that children might have a favourite toy or doll and fret if it goes missing.

      You say that I have a fervid imagination but it is not me that clings onto ancient beliefs as fact.

      • Rifleman819

        Ian ,

        Indeed I take note of your points but your “gnosis” trumps the experience of thousands of millions of people who have espoused Christianity in history.

        Either it is a wicked , mass (excuse pun) induced con-trick or …it is the truth.

        Interesting about facts-we know about the historical Jesus from several sources…in two millenia from now will people believe that “Ian” or “Rifleman” actually existed or were mere constructs.

        Again on guilt trips-a common misconception about guilt and sin…perhaps if you look around you, you might see the results of a “lack” of guilt or sense of sin in our present , anything-goes society?

        • Ian

          What about those who follow older religions e.g Hinduism etc? Is Hinduism true or false? And how do you know? If there is a heaven and you are allowed in, what might you say to Shiva, Hanuman or Ganesh? If Hinduism is right there are sure to be lots of gods.

          Not all religions can be true but they can all be false. In his lifetime the Islamic Prophet Mohammed is reputed to have said that of the seventy three sects of Islam only one was true, but forgot to say which it was, which wasn’t very nice of him, but now there are over one hundred and forty. Ooops!

          In two millenia from now I don’t think that I will be all that interested. But I know that we are both human constructs, an egg fertilised by a sperm. Interestingly enough, and I’m sorry if I’m teaching my grandmother to suck eggs but, when a female child is born she is already carrying all the eggs she will ever need, and a lot more besides so, when your father’s sperm fertilised the egg that resulted in your birth, the egg was in fact a part of your grandmother. Your mother was the host that carried it to term. Interesting concept evolution.

          Having spent 30 years as a police officer the last ten years at the not so salubrious end of Leeds I know quite a lot about the failings of society, as well as the good bits, I hasten to add but the concept of ‘sin’?

          We obviously had society before we had religion, the societal rules being absorbed into the religion, unless of course you believe that those practised the religion
          suddenly came up with the idea from nothing. So, society came first and society’s rules were absorbed into the religion of the day and were declared to be the will of ‘god’ or which ever deity they prayed to.

          Religion decreed that breaches of these rules a ‘sin’ against god and not only that determined the punishment. That’s called not only having your cake and eating it, bearing in mind that they also controlled the recipe for the cake as well.

          Then of course you have the different categories of ‘sin’, with different punishments, and you’re probably going to tell me that my interpretation is incorrect, which will just highlight another interpretation of ancient texts in the light of modern knowledge which is moving the goalposts. So the religion of the day, determines what is right and wrong, writes the rules and determines the punishment – now that is a human coinstruct if ever there was one. No gods required.

          Sin, an acronym for;


          Ethics and morality should form the basis of society not religious dogma, unless you happen to believe that murder, theft, rape etc are religious concepts.

          Remebering that Jesus was a Jew who came to uphold the law and honour the prophets how dp you reconcile the stories of Japhthah, Lot’s daughter and all the other horror stories from the OT?

          Just asking because there is nothing that I have read about the evils of slavery in the bible.

  • Ian

    I did say that I set out to be provocative; and I would hardly say that the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot etc were enlightened.

    I am well aware of the fact that the RCC pays what I would call ‘lip service’ to evolution, but always seeks to introduce god into their equation. This is not to say that individuals all have the same views but, to my way of thinking, it appears that to follow any of the monotheistic religious philosophies and accept evolution as a fact there has to be a disconnect somewhere along the line. If there was no ‘original sin’ does that not negative everything else. By referencing the literalism of the Southern Basptists and suggesting that the RCC are not literalists are you by any chance stating that Genesis is simply a metaphor? In which case did ‘Jesus’ die for a metaphor?

    A couple of years ago I listened to an interview when Richard Dawkins interviewed a man in the US about his belief in a personal god and, the man’s reply was staggering. I can’t remember his exact words but it was to the effect that if he thought there was no god he would, as you put it, take an axe to his next door neighbour and rape the next woman who walked down the street. Something I found shocking because it seemed to me that religion was his traight-jacket and he had no sense or right or wrong. His thoughts were his own but the fact that he apparently saw nothing wrong with his thinking and chose to ignore the ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs’ said more about him as an individual but nothing about the attitudes of society in general.

    I was brought up in a basically secular household, although I do remember that for a few years we said grace before meals. They stopped when I was child. My mother a lapsed Catholic of distant Irish descent, the only one of her siblings that took this route although they were all baptised into the RCC and, my father a sort of Anglican of more recent Scottish descent. And I can never remember religion being discussed. I was snet to Sunday School but was allowed to leave when I was 8 years of age because to me the miracle stories were just plain silly. But i was brought up ina fairly strict manner and the difference between right and wrong. The schools that I attended apart from adhering to the law of having a daily assembly, christian of course, and perhaps a single period each week of RI were secular; nothing way mentioned of religion outside of that context. The first time I met a Jew was at grammar school when we had a boy called Levi in class, he used that as an excuse to do his maths homework! altjhough he admitted later that neither he nor his family attended the local synagogue. That made up even more jealous.

    But to refer to your own question, just why am I a mroal person if I do not believe in a god? At least I think I am. I spent 30 years as Police officer, I have been married to the same woman since 1967, we have raised two children to adulthood, I was a youth leader for 15 years, after my retirement I was head-hunted to work on a cardiac-rehab programme for another 15 years. I have one conviction for speeding and one parking ticket. I didn’t thank god when my children were born, neither did I blame him/her because I double-pneumonia when I was an infant nor when my son almost died of a twisted bowel when he was eleven (you know god actually allowed him to enter this world with a colon that was too long! In reality one of the genetic switchs that controls the development of a developing foetus was late activating).

    Perhaps the answer lies elsewhere; in fact I know it does. Evolution provides the answer, we brought it with us.

    Have a look at these…0.0…1c..11.psy-ab.59S78F56EfU&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.45921128,d.d2k&fp=ae5bfca9663d82c3&biw=1856&bih=951

    Frans de Waal has done a huge amount of work looking at what we would call ‘morals’ in the animal kingdom. I hope they give you an insight into what we have become along the journey. (If the link doesn’t work just google ‘frans de waal’).

    I know that science has not yet answered the question of ‘the creation’ and perhaps it never will, but not knowing is all right; if science knew everything it would just stop. But, just consider for a moment that journey from the first single celled organisms to what we are today, the diversity of life on this planet from the worms that live in children’s eyes (not so good) to homo sapiens and the vast array of both flora and fauna. From trees so ancient that they evolved before bees and flies and have to rely on beetles to fertilise them eg Magnolias, to the latest cereals developed so that can withstand salt and drought.

    In nature evolution is the non-random selcection of random events, over time, that give those organisms an advantage which they pass on to their progeny. Man tweaks things and, only time will tell whether that is good or otherwise.

    Without wanting to teach anyone to suck eggs were you aware that every atom in existence, with the exception of hydrogen, helium and deuterium was created in the death of stars so we are all really made of stardust!

    It’s wonderful life, and a great story that didn’t in the levant. In all honesty we don’t need gods.

  • Ian

    Last line should read: It’s wonderful life, and a great story that didn’t start in the levant. In all honesty we don’t need gods.

  • SteveD

    On the feast of the English and Welsh martyrs, it might be worthwhile to recall that only one bishop withstood Henry, who knows how many consciences were soothed by seeing their bishops sign up to Henry’s spiritual claims. Some of our bishops are caving in without any threat except media assassination.

  • Rifleman819

    Ian ,

    Perhaps you need to look at the extensive RC Literature on the Bible-”evolution-lip service”??! My goodness-Abbe Gregor Mendel’s work on peas and heredity and 3 laws of inheritance predated Darwin’s “Origin ” work by a number of decades.

    I have been commissioned in the Army and have a Level 3 National honour but I wouldn’t call that into a question about debates on morality-but atheism? could say that it means that man has no “locus” outside himself for his own set of values-ie completely internalised, with no reference to anyone/thing else.

    And the most stubbornly resistant Christian denomination in the Reich were southern Bavarian Catholics.Virtually all the July 1944 plotters against Hitler were either Catholics or traditional Lutherans.

    No I’m not here to “convert” you at all…if you solely believe in evolution as the key to everything that’s fine. But just remember the civilisation that gave you a grammar school education and educated you and taught you to think was a Christian one.

    “Man -the maker of all things”-the central conceit of the Renaissance and Reformation.

    • Ian

      I know that Mendel owned a copy of Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species’ and, that Darwin apparently had no idea of Mendel’s work, which is a great shame because working together as a team could have meant that Darwin’s work would have been even more accurate. But to answer your point – ‘one swallow doth not a summer make’!

      with regard to morals Frans de Waal has few points to make:

      Do you really think that societies had no morals or ethics before the advent of religion. Come on now that is just silly; but if you want to read of something akin to that scenario try the Old Testament, there’s plenty there to choose from.

      I answer that for myself here:, a few posts above.

      I attended the former King James’ Grammar School whose charter was granted by King James 1 (of England) in 1608, three years prior to his authorised version of the bible being published.

      I received a principally secular education and there was some input into the development of ability to think, but the largest input came from my parents and as I grew other influential people that I came to know. And look where that’s got me!!!!

      I don’t think man, or anyone else, has gotten round to making stars or planets yet, in fact with three notable exceptions all the elements from the periodic table originated in dying atars and supernovae. We are all made of star-stuff.

      You mention conceit but isn’t religious belief and your personal relationship with the Judeo Christian God just solipsism?

      • Michael B Rooke

        @ Ian
        Mendel produced empirical evidence of rules of change within a species.
        Darwin observed differences within a species and concluded not unreasonably they occurred by natural selection.
        The conclusion that change of species were by natural selection was a not an unreasonable hypothesis in the middle of the C19th.

        Viewed in the context of DNA that view is not sustainable as no mechanism for the change of one species to another has been established.

        Atheists cling to Darwin in the belief that they have disproved a direct creationist intervention which is a literalist view of Genesis rather than seeing it as an allegorical description of creation.

        Whatever the outcome of research into a mechanism for species creation the existence of DNA shows that homo sapiens is a quantum change so there must have been a first homo sapiens, a first man.
        Catholic biblical exegesis notes that ‘Adam’ is used in two ways in Genesis, as a meaning for man and then subsequently as a persons name.
        “Human beings: Hebrew ’ādām is here the generic term for humankind; in the first five chapters of Genesis it is the proper name Adam only at 4:25 and 5:1–5. In our image, after our likeness: “image” and “likeness” (virtually synonyms) express the worth of human beings who have value in themselves (human blood may not be shed in 9:6 because of this image of God) and in their task, dominion (1:28), which promotes the rule of God over the universe.”

    • Rifleman819

      Ian ,

      Gosh -to share my solipsism with 1.2 Billion others! A communal solipsism??-does that concept dig you out of a misunderstanding about Catholicism?

      And it is not a personal faith/relationship so beloved of the Reform tradition -it is a faith and a relationship both personal and communal-a vitally different dimension.A Catholic dimension.Made clear since the Nicene Creed.

      And perhaps you need to have a look at articles on Catholic scientists-might prove “enlightening”.Several swallows there ,actually.In fact a whole sky-full.

      You beg the question-what came first-a morality or a society?

      Ian -again -perhaps you need to understand the part and roles of the Old Testament in Catholic theology-a fair bit different from those constructs of the Reformation tradition.

      It is an aspect that atheists in the “Hitchens” tradition don’t seem to grasp.

      But again if the Christian faith was, is ,and will remain demonstrably false to atheists -why then has it lasted 2013 years (to date)…a triumph of evolution maybe?
      And to finish with a whimsy-Isaac Newton firmly believed in hobgoblins and faeries but you can rest consoled, because Catholics were of course deemed to be of the Anti-Christ.

  • CharlesB

    The Bishop’s conference time spent in Rome was meant to be a kind of retreat. They had not done anything like that since the 70s properly.

    Two of our bishops (not hard to guess who) proposed the idea and backed it and I presume organized the practical details.
    Hence why such a good and poignant and excellent homily.

    That’s all really! Certainly wasn’t ++Vin idea was it!

  • Tom

    So that’s why Brentwood couldn’t be bothered to attend?

  • Ian

    Nope, solipsism is purely personal, and Catholicisn is just another faith.

    By the way where do you get the figure of 1.2 billion from? From parish records of how many were baptized into the faith, or from parish figures of how many attend mass? How old do the records have to be before these people are declared dead? I know that my mother and her siblings, eight in total and now all deceased, but I also know that not one of them ever attended any Catholic mass, neither did my grandfather and this was pre WW2. So just how are the figures produced?

    Do I misunderstand? Quite possibly but no matter how much you wrap it up in theology they will always be human constructs, nothing more. You might argue that these were attempts by ‘men’, who were ignorant taking into account what we know today, to understand what they termed ‘the divine’ or ‘sacred’, but they can never be more than human constructs which have been developed into today’s religion.

    Alexander the Great solved the ‘intractable problem’ of the Gordian Knot with the edge of his sword, not that I am suggesting for one moment that problems should be solved by violence, and at the centre of this ‘knotty problem’ was just rope. Theology is just a ball of pseudo-religious-philosphical razor wire designed to protect non-existent truths, because when you get to the centre of the argument, there are no truths, just more arguments.

    There is an tale that goes back to the ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland when a driver was stopped at a paramilitary road-block and was asked if he was Catholic or Protestant, his reply was ‘I’m an atheist.’ The response from the paramilitaries was ‘Are you a Catholic atheist or a Protestant atheist?’. Please don’t get hung up on me being anti-christian I’m not ‘anti’ any person in particular and my atheism stretches to all faiths.

    The fact that Christianity has survived approximately 2000 years is really irrelevant; making the claim that because something has lasted for about two millenia therefore must be true is just a logical fallacy, the appeal to authority. There are older religions than Christianity eg Hinduism et al, does that make them true as well?

    With regard to Newton, he was also an alchemist and, if you saw the documentary about him a couple of years ago you will perhaps remember the scene from the coaching inn where he stayed, in a time when foods were not produced as they are today and often cheese was served covered in maggots, Newton asked for a spoon so that he could eat the maggots. after all why waste protein. How things change.

    • Michael B Rooke

      Trying to denigrate Christian belief hides the fact that there are very few atheists.

      In the National Census 2011 looking at the data on religion in the spreadsheet
      Table QS210EW. The numbers were :

      Christians Cell F 15 33,243,175
      Atheists Cell BE 15 29,267

      The number of declared Christians was 33,243,175 making them 59.28% of England and Wales and the number of declared atheists 29267 making them 0.052% of England and Wales.

  • Rifleman819

    Ian ,

    I like this-your mind is made up , too then!

    Constructs…indeed-Deus or Darwin? except we believe Deus made Charles Darwin.And not the other way round.

    1.2 Bn-a figure used by the BBC actually-not known for its Romo-
    philia….several articles on their websites.

    Not getting hung -up on you being anti-Christian at all-why would I?

    Non-existent truths…in your opinion actually because you have the “gnosis” and other people here on this blog don’t?

    OK -how long has atheism existed then?… to apply an evolutionary argument-if your views are so robust -why isn’t everyone an atheist?

    But you haven’t answered the question -how and why has Christianity survived and flourished -and increases in the modern world as well?

    How does an atheist’s superior “gnosis” handle that one?

    And other Non-Christian faiths-have a look at how Rome regards them …not how you “think” Rome does.

    And lastly then – if both atheism and evolution contain the “truth” for you….
    What are you therefore …a mass of carbon with a significant water content , an electro-cardiac system and no individual destiny apart from darkness…how would you define yourself , as that or something different?

    Many of the evolutionary advocates in history -Galton , Marie Stopes and others have have been atheists ….and have held eugenisist views about the weak, the ill, the old , the unborn.
    Of course holding these views with the caveat that exempts themselves and their own families.
    It is not a long walk from a purely evolutionary , atheistic stance to the ovens of Auschwitz is it?
    When Newton was Master of the Mint he was a very enthusiastic hanger and flogger for those guilty of counterfeiting-in many ways not a nice chap really.Stupendous intellect but lacking that something ……..being hit by the apple was probably the cause…hmmm!

  • Ian

    Let me say that I am settled with my thoughts; however should there ever be any indpeendently verifed evidence of say, amputees re-growing their limbs, or children born to mothers who had taken thalidomide and had the severe deformities that we know about then of course all bets would be off. That would have to be seriously considered. But at the moment I am quite happy to be where I am.

    Which came first the Deus or the Darwin? If you are correct then i’m sorry but your Deus was a lousy designer: 1) the recurrent lanyngeal nerve which should travel from the spinal cord to the larynx, a distance of about four inches actually loops down into the chest cavity, under the aortic arch and back up the other side, very inefficient and more like to develop problems than if it had gone direct. This is something which has been observed in all mammals, from the pygmy shrew to the bull giraffe. 2) Collapsable tubes that pass through muscles that can spasmodically collapse ie our urinary tract. These are just two examples of bad design and the only way they make sense is, if evolution is true. There are many many more examples of traits that we share with our cousins that inhabit the fauna that confirm Darwin’s theory of evolution.

    I’m not anti-christian so please don’t make it personal, it’s not, unless somebody makes ad hominem attacks on me.

    On the question of ‘truths’, existent or otherwise I think we can agree to differ. I don’t accept that there are any gods, you do. I’m not claiming an occult knowledge just that I don’t see evidence in anything that I have read, seen or heard to convince me otherwise.

    How long has atheism existed? That’s a pass, but in all probability I would guess as long as religion itself, although in Tyndall’s day to make such an admission was a death sentence and in many countries around the globe today atheism can be punished by a death sentence – we have a long way to go. But there are signs from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and many other countries that incredibly brave people are joining our ranks, just letting a little more light into the shadows.

    Answered your question? There are many of mine you have chosen to side-step ;o) !! Religion in ‘the old days’ was a clan or a tribal thing, kept the clan together looked after, or otherwise, by their god(s). Didn’t have much of an effect on the tectonic plates or the volcanoes though. Wasn’t it in the reign of Hezekiah that Yhwh was plucked from obscurity to become the one true god? Mind you they left his Asharah behind. And apart from Akhenaten and the cult of Ra that was, I believe, the first time one god was given precedence although there are many references in the bible of Gods. Religion has had such a strong grip on society for millenia and in the UK we are one of a tiny number of countries that has a state religion with politicians who think nothing of assiting churches to get their hands on children, metaphorically speaking that is. However the numbers are falling and even in the US the PEW surveys are showing that relgion is waning, especially amongst those under 45. There are now many freethinker and atheist groups amongst the black and hispanic communities.

    I’m sure that Rome rubs along with all the other religious faiths, got to stick together in this time of miltant atheist secularism! Although secularism, as I sure you understand, is different from atheism.

    Yes, quite happy to be as you so eloquently put it: ‘a mass of carbon with a significant water content , an electro-cardiac system and no individual destiny apart from darkness’. As Mark Twain put it (I think)’I was dead for millions of years before my birth and didn’t suffer from it.’ If you missed my earlier comment I died on the operating table in 1992, during an angiogram and had to be jump started, 40% of people who like me suffered from cardiac arrest during an angiogram stay dead – there is nothing there, no noise, no trees, no wind, no loved ones, no light at the end of the tunnel, not even the bailiff with a torch!

    Darwin was a man of his time and he held as many educated people did in the mid 19thC ideas about Africans that today we would find offensive and not only that demonstrably wrong but that was nothing to do with his theory of evolution, just the current ideas in circulation at the time. However if extend Darwinism to ‘social Darwinism’ then Yes you will get some pretty unpleasant results and, I have no doubt that Galton, Stopes and many others used their mis-interpretation of Darwin’s theory to ‘the survival of the fittest’, which it was never has been. But Darwin’s theory of evolution and social Darwinism are birds of a different feather.

    As you know Newton was quite a religious man and perhaps it was the apple striking him on his head that knocked some siense into him!! Actually it didn’t, it missed him but why let the truth get in the way of a good story? Religion wouldn’t do that would it?

  • Rifleman819

    Ian ,

    And for an atheist you are mighty inconsistent aren’t you?

    You seem to draw irrefutable views about Catholicism from your extended family and their history and “people you know” in an anecdotal fashion yet also dismiss out of hand the evidence of 1.2 Bn present believers and those who have gone to their rest in the centuries before.

    And -although naturally I do assert it-any human phenomenon with that amount of following presumably must have “something” about it?

  • Ian

    Inconsistent? How? I have never moved from my position that there are no gods. The anecdotes to which you refer are just illustrations. I have admitted that my position is not irrefutable, if there is sufficient fully verified independent evidence that indicates that there is a god, for example, amputees re-growing their lost limbs then of course that is worthy of further appraisal; but until then my position stands. But, I’ll bet that if there are any gods, which I sincerely doubt, ‘it’ what ever ‘it’ is will have nothing to do with any earthly manifestation of religion.

    As for the 1.2 bn reputed adherents; I would suspect that with some exceptions this was familial influence, the fact, if fact it is, that there are 1.2 bn carries no more weight than the vast numbers of people who once believed that the world was flat. Or those who believed Harold Camping when he predicted the rapture. They are just logical fallacies, the appeal to authority, using the numbers involved, or their belief in the authority figure to support their assertion, that is not a valid position to hold.

    If people want to believe that’s there affair but if the reports are true about figures in the PEW report the ‘nones’ as they are becomming known are now the second largest demographic in the US, and that figure is growing; now over 20% which is remarkable.

    In the UK a Ipsos MORI poll carried out on behalf of the Richard Dawkins Foundation which questioned those who had ticked the christian box in the last census showed that the majority ticked that box for many reasons and not because they were Christian. This is a link to the poll:

    Anyway I’m going to Las Vegas tomorrow, my daughter is getting married so, if I don’t respond it’s because I’m not here not because I’m in hiding.

  • Rifleman819

    Ian ,
    No it would not be personal -if then you believe you are what you are -an evolutionary piece of biological wobbly matter I’m happy that you’re happy but …….interestingly , I did “clock” your bit about heart attacks -and as you say you did not feel any afterlife-yet many others have reported very strongly the opposite.
    As I really do reiterate there is a flourishing Pontifical Institute for the Sciences and many other areas as well …Catholics see no intrinsic difficulties with science and technology(only their implications and usages) because the Nicene Creed asserts that we believe that God created all things “visibilium et invisibilium”.

    For the modern age you could not do better than the life and death of Ernesto “Che ” Guevara (1928-67),the Argentine medical student turned revolutionary.A man with great gifts who ,if he had really cared for the poor of Latin America ,would have remained true to his calling. But no.

    At one stage Che was apparently Castro’s chosen enforcer of the Revolution and liked to watch men with quintessential irony in 1967 he found himself on the receiving end of Bolivian Army weapons.
    I hope your cardio-electric pump sustains you for as long as it might and only when both of us are “acquainted with the great secret” as they said in the C18th….will we know who has won in Pacal’s Wager.

  • Rifleman819

    Ian ,
    Who would impute such a course of action to you?
    Now if it were a certain gent from Oxfordshire……………….
    With best wishes to your family

  • Ian

    ‘Biological wobbly matter’ sounds about right! But I haven’t had a heart attack, not even a small one. The angiogram showed that the cardio-vascular blood supply is not compromised at all, my challenge is electrical, so far so good.

    After I retired from the Police service I worked in Cardiac rehab for fifteen years, sounds odd I know but it’s true, so my understanding of this field is slightly better than most, and I stress slightly. I am aware of the phenomenon such as you speak and studies carried out in Italy under hospital conditions where blood gases could be measured showed that these unusual experiences were due to hypoxia ie shortage of oxygen in the blood that affected the brain. This link may help:

    I have no doubt that there are many excellent scientists who are religious, just as there are many atheists who have read more of the bible than others.

    Thank you for your kind remarks.

  • Rifleman819

    Ian ,
    Thanks for that link.
    Take care.

  • Ian

    Just in case you are wondering and to clarify a point if you were, I had no idea of the ‘religous/supernatural’ content of that site until about 10 minutes ago, I posted it simply because of the explanation of hypoxia; still interesting though.

  • Rifleman819

    Ian ,

    Thank you ….I hesitate to do otherwise than wish you “Darwinspeed” on your flight across the Pond.

    And be alert too …because no one expects the Spanish Inquisition!

  • Ian

    Cheers, ‘Darwinspeed’ in a ‘big bird’? Hmmm, can’t be bad, but I’m expecting more of the Monty Python Inquisition and, I am prepared to be attacked with THE SOFT CUSHION!!!!!

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