Catholic Men’s Debate.
I was invited to speak last week to a group of men in Belfast. The format was very interesting and was based on the American ‘Argument of the Month’ initiative. A topic is chosen for the debate and two Catholics take different positions on the chosen topic. Each speaker presents a ten-minute overview of their position and then each speaker questions the other speaker and seeks to rebut their assertions. Finally, the topic is opened to the floor and the speakers are questioned by those who attend the meeting. Food and drink are served prior to the talks and the general idea is to get Catholic men to engage with their faith.
It was my first time engaging in such a debate. The talk was at times intense and there was no winner declared at the end, because that is not the purpose of these gatherings. Faithful Catholics can have different viewpoints on how best to promote the faith, we are not opposed to each other and I would say that everyone who attended the debate, which was on Catholic education, shares a common concern on how best to pass on the Catholic faith to the next generation even though we differ as to how effective or how ‘catholic’ our schools are.
During the debate and the discussion from the floor that followed, I noticed something that is becoming all too common in our modern society and Catholics are not immune to this problem. People become defensive and tend to use ‘ad hominem’ attacks rather than dealing with the material that is presented. Emotive arguments are presented, and statements are made without solid evidence to back up what is being said. What is said is regarded as true, because the person said it is true.
My own presentation focused on Pope Pius XI’s encyclical ‘Divini Illius Magistri’ which I described as the ‘Magna Carta’ on Christian education. Rather than make an assessment of what I presented, I was accused of being stuck in the year 1929 and was told that there have been developments since then. I asked if there was anything which I had quoted from the encyclical that people disagreed with. I asked if any pope since 1929 has disagreed with, or corrected, or changed anything that was said by Pope Pius XI. Nobody could point out anything. The disagreement with my presentation was based solely on the year the encyclical was written. Of course, I pointed out that the gospels are quite old and asked if they should be dismissed on the same grounds.
One elderly man said that he grew up in the time when God was presented as the God of wrath and that he preferred the way things were now with God presented as the God of Love. Now God does not change, and God’s wrath is still God’s wrath even if modern day priests do not speak of it. However, the modern approach is failing in a spectacular way, particularly with our young people. I posed the question, ‘if Catholic schools are still teaching Catholicism in its fullness, then how do we explain the fact that over 86% of young people in the age group 18 – 24, the majority of whom were educated in Catholic schools, voted to allow the killing of innocent human beings in their mother’s wombs?’ It is obvious from this simple fact, that Catholic schools in Ireland are not effective in passing on the faith. We know that the problem is not the Catholic faith ‘per se’, so the problem must be with the schools and with how they teach their students.
I mentioned that Catholic education is not confined to the religious instruction class, but that all subjects must be taught in light of the Catholic faith and that the moral aspects, especially of human sexuality, cannot be left out. One speaker from the floor, who identified himself as a biology teacher, jokingly thanked me for condemning him to Hell, and then told us that he taught the biological aspects of human sexuality to his students, including contraception, but that he did not teach them the moral aspects connected with this matter or that the Catholic church teaches that contraception is intrinsically evil.
The Spiritual & Moral Dimensions of Human Sexuality Must Always be Taught.
Once again, the ‘ad hominem’ attack. I didn’t condemn anyone to Hell nor would I. But to teach the biological aspects of our human sexuality including contraception, without reference to Catholic moral teaching is to do a grave disservice to the students in question. It denies them the help of forming their consciences and could leave them with the impression that contraception is OK because their biology teacher taught them about it and he didn’t say there was anything wrong with it. This is not just my opinion, for example, the Pontifical Council for the Family, in its document ‘The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality’ of 1995 states.
“Positive information about sexuality should always be part of a formation plan so as to create the Christian context in which all information about life, sexual activity, anatomy and hygiene is given. Therefore, the spiritual and moral dimensions must always be predominant so as to have two special purposes: presenting God’s commandments as a way of life, and the formation of a right conscience.”
Please God this debate will encourage these men not only to think about what was presented to them, but to take action, so that the education given to our young people will once more conform to what the Catholic church teaches on this matter. Only then will our young people be able to withstand the evil thinking that currently pervades the society they are growing up in.
Ordinary Catholics Sharing their Faith.
On the Sunday following this talk I attended the Latin Mass in St Kevin’s Church on Harrington Street in Dublin. After the Mass I met many old friends and supporters of The Lumen Fidei Institute & Catholic Voice and I was invited to go for a cup of tea in the Camden Court Hotel. Apart from Holy Mass, this was the highlight of my trip to Belfast and Dublin. I arrived at the hotel to find a group of more than twenty people, all faithful Catholics, engaged in lively discussion, camaraderie and socialisation. There was a great sense of joy at each of the tables. I have often mentioned that those of us who seek to remain faithful to what the Catholic Church always teaches, oftentimes feel alone or isolated. Yet here was a group of ordinary Catholics gathered together after Sunday Mass in joyful celebration of their shared faith. It was wonderfully uplifting and a great joy to be there. I am told that this is a weekly event.
The Gospel at Holy Mass was St Matthew 8:23-27 which tells of the storm at sea and Jesus asleep in the boat. The priest in his homily spoke of how St Jerome linked this story to the story of the prophet Jonah, and of how the storm arose at sea when Jonah tried to flee to Tarshish instead of going up to Nineveh as God commanded him.
The Irish Bishops Are Just Like Jonah.
As I was listening to the homily it struck me that the Irish bishops are just like Jonah. They have been commissioned by Christ to teach the Gospel in its entirety, but they flee from teaching the Truth on account of worldly concerns, political correctness, media backlash and a fear of offending people by speaking these Catholic Truths. The Catholic schools under the patronage of the Irish bishops are failing miserably in their duty to teach the Catholic faith to the children in their care and the Irish government has been handed control of the curriculum in the Catholic schools unopposed, and often with the co-operation of the Irish bishops. When a group of faithful Catholic parents fought against the government’s introduction of the RSE programme into Catholic schools, they were undermined by the Irish bishops who inserted RSE into the Alive-O programme which was also opposed by faithful Catholic parents.
St Jerome compares what happened to Jonah to what happens to man in general.
“The flight of the prophet can be related to man in general, who, forsaking the commands of God, flees from his face and goes out into the world. But in consequence a storm of wickedness and the shipwreck of the entire world are sent against him, and he is made to pay attention to God and to return to that which he had fled. From this we can understand that what appears to be advantageous to mankind, turns into their downfall by God’s will. And not only is their aid no use to those whom it is offered, but even those who offer it are destroyed.” (St Jerome on Jonah – Chapter 1)
The Irish bishop’s failure to defend the doctrines that should be taught in Catholic schools, their failure to ensure solid Catholic teaching in Irish seminaries, and their failure to correct priests who publicly contradict infallible Catholic teaching, has resulted in a storm of wickedness descending on our once Catholic nation. Widespread contraceptive use, divorce, pretend ‘same-sex marriage’, pornography, and now, horror of horrors, the killing of innocent human beings in their mother’s wombs are all the direct result of the loss of faith of the Irish people which loss has been aided and abetted by the Irish bishop’s failure to proclaim the Truth in a clear and unambiguous manner.
What is the solution? The same solution that was required of Jonah. The Irish bishops must return to preaching the Truths of the Catholic faith in their entirety. Public dissenters must be corrected publicly in order to protect the souls of the faithful. Catholic schools must become Catholic again. The seminaries must become solidly Catholic again. The storms will continue and will grow worse until this happens. Euthanasia is already on the way to deal with the problem of unproductive old people. Infanticide will be introduced for those children who survive botched abortion attempts. The mentally and physically handicapped will be exterminated before they are born.
And we the laity, what must we do?
We must emulate the people of Nineveh. We must adopt lives of penance and reparation and plead with God to spare our country and our people. We must follow what Archbishop Fulton Sheen said and we must challenge our priests to be holy priests and our bishops to be holy bishops. The salvation of our children, of our friends, and of our families depends on this. It is the laity who will protect the Catholic family and therefore, it is the Catholic laity who will either save Irish society by bringing back the faith of ages, or allow Ireland to go to ruin because we did not dare to challenge those in authority who are not fulfilling their role in protecting the flock entrusted to their care.
Do not listen to the taunts of those who deride us as wanting to go back in history. We know that this is a caricature and a falsehood not worth responding to. We seek to promote that timeless holiness which Christ offered to us through His Catholic Church. Holiness never goes out of fashion and its basic precepts never change. Of course, we will at times fall and fail to live up to the great perfection Christ wishes us to possess, but we must never give up hope and we must rise each time we fall or fail by going to the sacraments Christ instituted for this very purpose. Regular confession and regular Mass and Holy Communion.
When one looks at the growing suicide rate in our society, a growth which over the last ten years has been most pronounced among females and among children in the ten to fourteen age group, it is a clear sign that our young people are losing Hope. They are losing Hope because the are not being taught the Faith properly and, with the loss of Faith and Hope comes also a loss of Charity.
“At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold” (Matthew 24:10-12)
Our Lord also tells us “but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13) Let us join together to help one another to stand firm to the end, to rouse our bishops from their sleep so that they will wake up and calm the storms that are besetting our Nation because of the wickedness of men.
May God bless you