Thursday 26 March 2015

Defend the Clergy, Defend the Church

I draw all Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma readers and members to the letter below signed by nearly 500 Catholic priests in England and Wales.

The letter defends and upholds the teachings of the Catholic Church which simply reiterate Christ's own teaching on marriage, divorce and remarriage.

If the Church's teachings on human sexuality, marriage and the predispositions required in order to receive Holy Communion cannot be proclaimed publicly by priests without some kind of criticism from those set in authority over them, then it is doubtful that anyone, at all, can proclaim them.

I urge, therefore, all readers and Guild members to pray for the clergy, to pray for Cardinal Vincent Nichols and to sign this petition in support of the priests who have publicly made known their adherence to the timeless teachings of Christ's Church. The Laity are not in a position of great influence, but the Laity can pray for the clergy and make publicly known their support of those clergy who are standing up for Jesus Christ to be counted in public. The following is a statement made by Cardinal Nichols.

“Every priest in England and Wales has been asked to reflect on the Synod discussion. It is my understanding that this has been taken up in every diocese, and that channels of communication have been established,” the statement said.

“The pastoral experience and concern of all priests in these matters are of great importance and are welcomed by the Bishops. Pope Francis has asked for a period of spiritual discernment. This dialogue, between a priest and his bishop, is not best conducted through the press.”

As many in the sidebar of this Guild blog have pointed out, His Eminence's statement on the letter to the Press is, unfortunately, riddled with inaccuracies. These are as follows.

Firstly, it is true that every priest in England and Wales has been asked to reflect on the Synod discussion. This is a request that has come from the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. It is also true that the Clergy Reflection from the Bishop's Conference infers in a subtle manner that those who are not open to the 'new vision' proposed by Cardinal Kasper, are similar to the Donatists condemned by St Augustine.

Thus, if this is a 'channel of communication' then it is a channel of communication which, from the outset, unfortunately labels clergy as potential heretics if they do not agree with the Kasper proposal and hold fast to the teachings of Christ and His Church. A respectful and open dialogue, that does not appear to be.

Secondly, Cardinal Vincent Nichols stresses the experience and concerns of priests are welcomed by the Bishops and that this dialogue, between priest and bishop is not best conducted through the press. Yet, nowhere, absolutely nowhere in the letter, is it even indicated that this letter to the Press forms part of the open dialogue between priests and their Bishops. It is a letter, signed by clergy, to the Press, making clear and public their adherence to the Church's Magisterium and the teaches which come from the Lord and His Apostles, guarded and defended by the Church for nearly 2000 years.

Thirdly, having neglected to observe that this letter was not a communication to the Bishops, but to the Press and all who may happen to read it, His Eminence decides to use a statement in the media to publicly rebuke priests who, far from rebuking Bishops or anyone in the Hierarchy, simply made known their support for the teachings and disciplines of the Catholic Church.

Astonishingly, to the Laity, Cardinal Vincent Nichols once suggested that those who objected to the infamous Soho Masses should 'hold their tongues'. Even more astonishingly, to the Clergy, Cardinal Vincent Nichols now suggests that - despite their not addressing their concerns to the Bishops, but instead penning a letter to the Catholic and even non-Catholic public, to the faithful and unfaithful - these clergy should 'hold their pens'.

Priests do not require permission from their Bishop to do what every Bishop should be doing - teaching the Catholic Faith to all who wish to listen to it or read it. Their letter does not form a part of the 'ongoing dialogue' between priests and bishops. It is a letter to the Press and the public supporting Jesus's own teachings, which are the Church's own. This Guild speaks on behalf of no personalities in particular. It does not speak for priests or for bishops who are free and able to speak for themselves, but, more hopefully, for Christ. Like the many clergy who signed the letter to the Press, this blog merely seeks to defend, proclaim and to make known the truths of the Catholic Faith, to bring men and women to adore, serve and proclaim the One True God in His Holy Catholic Church. I urge all readers to pray for the Hierarchy and to pray for the clergy.

The Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma is a coalition of Catholic bloggers. It is not our aim to use this blog as a vehicle to make personal those critical issues which within the Church are of general concern to us. However, at a time of grave crisis in the Church, a crisis of Faith eluded to frequently by Pope Benedict XVI, I believe I have support from this Guild when I say that no Catholic can simply look away and pretend not to see when Jesus Christ himself is placed on trial by the Church and His Truth becomes questioned by those who He has appointed as Shepherds over His flock. No lay Catholic can simply look away when those Shepherds attempt to - by either public or private means - smother the voices of those priests who believe in Jesus Christ's words, and repeat them for the Salvation of Souls, in honour of the God they serve and in Whose place they stand at every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Pray for priests, pray for good and holy Bishops. Pray for the Pope. Pray for the Universal Church.


  1. Just on the question of the Donatists. My understanding is some Christians had apostatised in the face of persecution. Even though they repented and did penance the Donatists would not accept this as bringing them back into full communion. This is radically different from someone who contracts a second marriage and is going to persist in adultery and therefore has not repented of their second marriage.

  2. The Donatists refused to accept those back into the Church who repented of apostasy. Obviously, those who understand sacramental theology cannot accept those who refuse to repent of adultery, who would not get any grace from Communion anyway, living in mortal sin.

    There is no comparison with orthodox clerics and laity and the Donatists.


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