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Is the Bishops of Ferns right? Is the ACP now ‘mainstream’?

On September 18 last I travelled the long journey to Wexford. I was representing the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) at a meeting with the Bishop of Ferns and his Priests’ Council. It was part of an effort, on the part of the ACP, to make contact with bishops and priests around the country.
We had asked the Papal Nuncio for a meeting but he felt it was more appropriate if we met the Irish bishops. We had then asked the bishops for a meeting but they thought it was more appropriate that we should meet the Councils of Priests. It was, you could argue, an ecclesiastical version of Pass the Parcel but nonetheless we took the invitation at face value and travelled up and down the country for almost a year. Ferns, the Wexford diocese, was one of our final meetings.
I was very graciously received in Wexford and the discussion ranged over a wide area:

  • the dearth of vocations;
  • dealing with allegations of child abuse against priest;
  • the new English translation of the Mass;
  • the method of appointing bishops;
  • the ‘silencing’ of priests;
  • the decline in religious practice;and so forth.

Running through the meeting was a lively criticism of the ACP: by setting out our own agenda we were damaging the unity of priests, with people confused because of different voices expressing different views; we hadn’t taken a public position in the recent abortion debate; we were perceived as ‘radicals’ and ‘dissidents’, wanting to set up our own church, independently of Rome; we were getting too much uncritical publicity in the media; and so forth. Some members of the Council of Priests had genuine criticisms and expressed them trenchantly; others took on the role of devil’s advocate.
I made the point that in the three years of the life of the ACP we had witnessed an extraordinary turn-around in the Catholic Church. When we started it was clear that the views we were expressing found no favour in Rome. In fact, quite the opposite. It was clear, particularly in the treatment of Fr Tony Flannery, that an effort was being orchestrated to nullify independent priests’ associations in the Catholic Church that were cropping up all over the world. The strategy seemed to be: remove the shepherd and the sheep will scatter.
Then six months ago, I explained, with the election of Pope Francis ,we suddenly discovered that the platform of reform the ACP had established was being consistently echoed in his words, thoughts and symbolic actions. We had discovered to our amazement that the new pope was stealing all our best ideas!
I indicated some of the resonances between what the pope was saying and ACP policy:

  • the reforms of the Second Vatican Council were to be implemented and could not be set aside;
  • the Church needed to be become more ‘collegial’ in its structures;
  • the Roman Curia was not fit for purpose and needed to be pruned back;
  • we needed a simpler people’s liturgy and not a Roman liturgy of bells and smells, of linen and lace;
  • we needed to look at re-imaging Catholic priesthood, including its connection with obligatory celibacy;
  • we needed to look at Catholic sexual morality; and so on.

So, I suggested to the Ferns men, that instead of the ACP finding ourselves outside the official Church waving our tattered flags and seeking attention for our ideas, now – incredibly, extraordinarily, incomprehensively – we suddenly found ourselves on the inside track with Pope Francis, sponsoring a shared platform of reform. As I laid out the tectonic shift in attitude, tone and content that the papacy of Francis was clearly sponsoring, the Bishop of Ferns responded, ‘So the ACP is now mainstream!’ Everyone laughed, including myself! But, incredibly, incomprehensively, it may well be true.
What the Ferns priests didn’t seem to get (and they’re not the only ones) is that with Pope Francis, we’re in a very different ball-game. A cardinal recently said about him, ‘The new Pope plays for the same team but he kicks the ball in a an entirely different direction’. We’re not used to popes kicking the ball anywhere but straight between the posts. Now Francis is, like the Dublin goalkeeper, Stephen Cluxton, very effectively spraying the ball everywhere.
Part of the problem is that Irish priests, based on lifetimes of experience, doggedly refuse to believe that Rome can or would change. Or indeed that a 76-year-old Argentinian will have the energy or the resilience or the time to introduce the kind of structural and systemic reform that the Church needs. And that’s very understandable.
But we’re in a different place now, after half a century of that long winter of our discontent. Suddenly we can dream again, as the Church did 50 years ago; suddenly, everything is possible, because a pope, effectively commissioned by the cardinals and now working closing with a representative group of eight of them, is pointing the Church in a different direction, the way of reform.
Let me give you an example. At the Ferns meeting the priests were very critical of the ACP for not publicly supporting the bishops in the recent abortion debate. I tried, unsuccessfully I have to say, to respond to their concerns.
If I could have said that in preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Pope Francis believed, as the ACP believes, that the Church had become too obsessed with sexual issues – abortion, same sex marriages, contraception – and that we needed to become more balanced in our approach, then that would have been compelling justification for the ACP position. The extraordinary thing was that the day after our discussion in Wexford, Pope Francis was exactly that – in his now famous interview.
A few days later I read a report in an American Catholic newspaper, the National Catholic Reporter, that Pope Francis was contemplating the appointment of a woman cardinal. In a recent book I had argued for the same thing, even suggesting that Mary McAleese, might be a worthy candidate for such a ground-breaking position. Like the Wexford priests, people laughed at such an extraordinary prospect.
We might not be laughing soon.

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  1. Soline Humbert says:

    “…suddenly everything is possible”….Closed doors to open on their rusty hinges? Stones being rolled away from tombs? Women free to fulfill their God given callings in a church freed from sexism?

  2. I try to visit my favourite church each day. Outside the church there is a big banner which states, GODS HOUSE, YOUR HOME, ALL ARE WELCOME HERE. That is what the ACP have preached since their foundation. I wonder has Pope Francis ever visited my favourite church?

  3. Mary O Vallely says:

    Whilst I share some of Brendan Hoban’s optimism may I point out the danger of thinking that there will soon be no need for an ACP under this present papacy. There are many, many issues still to be debated, not least of which is the appalling attitude to women in the church. I repeat again that there is another forum, the Association of Catholics in Ireland http://www.acireland.ie which needs to be supported and which provides a necessary forum for the non-ordained. We lay people have more freedom than the ordained and have less fear as we have less to lose. Healthy discussion and debate is a vital part of our lives as Catholics and huge thanks again to Brendan and the ACP team for the superhuman efforts you have put into starting this off. Do not give up or give in, please. Keep this channel of communication open. 🙂

  4. It is certainly the bishops of Ireland that need to see, hear, and understand that the ACP might well be mainstream…if, indeed, Pope Francis’s words and actions point to reforms that have already been taken up by the ACP…..I am reminded again…..What does Pope Francis mean by, “the Church needs an overhaul?”

  5. As the antics of the bishop of Limburg show, it’s time also for a major change in the role of bishops. Given the power to be big-wigs many will act accordingly. Time also for a new model for ownership and trustee-ship for church property so that bishops cannot ban duly invited speakers from a local church.

  6. Sean (Derry) says:

    Spin based upon delusion.

  7. Eddie Finnegan says:

    I am sure all the priest members of the ACP, as well as several thousand others who never had the inclination or gumption or temerity to align themselves with the association, must be indebted to the perseverance of the leadership team over the past three years. What Brendan calls the ‘Pass the Parcel’ (or hot brick) approach of Nuncio and Bishops is probably their understanding of Collegiality & Subsidiarity rolled into one at the local level. A “nobody representing nobodies” response to Brendan in Wexford might have had in honesty what it lacked in courtesy. You knew where you stood or knelt back in the days of Wojtyla’s wagging finger, as 89-year old Ernesto Cardenal could tell us. With Bergoglio, Bishop Brennan and his Council of Priests may be taking some uneasy comfort in the likelihood that a one-lunged 76-year old may not outlive them, let alone make it to 89.
    The thing about Councils of Priests is that while they may have an air of representativeness or limited clerical ‘democracy’ about them, those appointed by the Bishop rather than elected by their Fellows may actually be running an ‘open discussion’ even without opening their mouths. Where they do open their mouths, how many of the merely elected feel free to say what they’re thinking? It’d be interesting to know how many of Ferns’ 14 Council members were elected by their diocesan fellow priests. There’s at least half a dozen, including the two monsignors, who seem to crop up all over the place.
    All I’m saying is that where Brendan writes “the Ferns men” or “What the Ferns priests didn’t seem to get”, maybe he should say “the chaps on the Ferns CoP”. Of course I’m only speculating, but I know a couple of Ferns men who may not be CoP material but should be at home in the ACP.

  8. Raymond Hickey Bordine says:

    From the Spirit’s mind to your computer! Thank you for this excellent article.

  9. Linda, Derry says:

    @eddie finnegan: With respect Eddie, my belief is that it is not a case of having the “gumption” to align yourself with the ACP or any other faction among the clergy. I have no time for shallow labelling of people as ‘right wing’, ‘left wing’, ‘liberal’, ‘conservative’ etc. We are all CATHOLICS, each with his/her own beliefs/struggles in their efforts to follow Christ, the biggest challenge for many being the commandment “love one another as I have loved you”. Our Lady loves and prays for ALL of her priests equally and unconditionally and I believe that we, as laity are called to imitate Our Mother. Even the apostles squabbled and disagreed among themselves as to who was the greatest, yet Our Lady loved them all….although I’m sure she was perhaps at times exasperated at the disunity which often comes, not from God, but from human frailty and sin. God Bless 🙂

  10. Eddie Finnegan says:

    Linda@9, like yourself, “I have no time for shallow labelling of people as ‘right wing’, ‘left wing’, ‘liberal’, ‘conservative’ etc.” I see the Association of Catholic Priests as an offer to (Irish) priests of a voice where their voice was disconcertingly silent over the past couple of decades. The Association makes no claims to represent all of Ireland’s Catholic priests, but that doesn’t make it a “faction”. For me it’s even more disconcerting, despite all the excuses made for them, that the vast majority of ACP members still do not seem to have found their voice – rather, it seems they’d prefer to let a few leaders speak for them. How ‘Catholic’ can you get, even in the name of Reform?
    On another note, Linda, I’m puzzled by your apparent hotline to Mary. In which of the four Gospels, Acts or even the non-canonical Gospels, does Our Lady intervene in any of the career moves and title-grabbing squabbles of the Twelve? I may be missing something. Or do you just make it up as you go along? I think we should be told.

  11. ‘..we traveled up and down the country for almost a year..’ this reminded me of Paul and his journeying to and from Jerusalem, trying sometimes patiently and sometimes impatiently, to persuade the Christian Jewish leaders, Peter, James and John of the need to abolish the Law, circumcision and dietary laws, if the mission to the Gentiles were to succeed. To use Brendan Hoban’s words, ‘it needed a tectonic shift in attitudes’ to win the Jewish leadership around. The transition of Richard McBrien’s ‘second moment to the third moment’ in Church history is what is happening here. If the Church truly wants to move forward to become a ‘world Church’ many of its archaic laws will have to be shed. Such as enforced celibacy, exclusion of women and all the other ‘categories’ of people who are ostracized from the ‘temple’.

  12. Linda, Derry says:

    @”puzzled” Eddie: grow up 🙂

  13. alan laird says:

    Brendan, you say you tried unsuccessfully to reply to the concerns of the priests in Ferns regarding the ACP refusal to take part in the recent abortion debate. Could you share with us your reply to their question. To compare Pope Francis’ comments with yours is surely unfair. Was he not speaking in a completely different context? At the time the Church in Ireland was not being obsessed with abortion but was a voice taking part in a serious national debate, the results of which would have serious consequences on the lives of many women and children into the future.

  14. Bob Hayes says:

    Alan (no. 13). Indeed! The silence of an organisation opposed to the alleged ‘silencing’ of priests during a national debate is truly odd.

  15. Eddie Finnegan says:

    @12: Chapter & Verse please, Linda. Your 🙂 is no more convincing than your signature ‘God bless’. So please share your scriptural evidence on Our Lady – unless your quotes are from Our Lady of Ardboe. Remember her?

  16. @13.
    Alan, I agree that ‘context’ is an important part of what we say and do. The context within which Pope Francis and Brendan Hoban were speaking about abortion is within the context of the Church’s teaching on abortion and the Church’s teaching on sexual morality in general. Whether it is to reporters in America or Rome, or whether it is in Wexford to a bishop or a Priest’s council, if abortion or contraception or any other sexual moral issue is being spoken about between the Heirarchy it is within the context of Church teaching. They are controversial issues. They are controversial because in modern times we, the laity and women are not passive receivers of Church teaching anymore. We question. Teaching requires two actions, teaching and being taught. It is reciprocal. Some Church teaching has a habit of melting into oblivion because those being taught cannot accept it but also have not the power to change it. For example: ‘Pius XI encyclical on Christian education (with the same level of authority as Humanae Vitae, solemnly declared that ‘co-education is erroneous and pernicious,and is often based on a naturalism which denies original sin…Nature itself, which makes the two sexes different in organism, inclinations and attitudes, provides no argument for mixing them promiscuously, much less education them together’. Catholics are confused by this and wonder how the 39 year interval between the two encyclicals (1929,1968) allows us to treat one as a museum piece quietly forgotten and the other as a serious obligation in conscience indeed in some cases an impossible burden for responsible parents’ (Spiritual Abuse).
    My point is that if Church teaching is accepted quietly without question then there is no need for discussion. If Church teaching is not accepted without question then there is need for discussion. Discussing issues on which people disagree invariably raises differences of opinion, but all of this is within the ‘context’ of Church teaching.

  17. Linda,@12, I too, like Eddie@10, am curious as to your sources regarding Our Lady intervening among the Apostles and her continuing love and support for all our priests. As far as I know this is not referred to in the Gospels. However, I am now wondering if perhaps She mentioned this during the apparitions at Lourdes or Fatima. I have to confess that my knowledge of these events is fairly minimal.
    One other thing, Linda, does Her ongoing support and love for our priests also extend to ministers of the other Christian denominations, for example, Anglican priests, Church of Scotland ministers, priests of the Orthodox tradition and so on? And, also, of course, religious sisters who are, of course, women. The American Nuns have been having a hard time recently and they could certainly do with Our Lady’s support. I will look forward to your information on this, Linda. God bless.

  18. Linda, Derry says:

    @Paddy Ferry: Our Lady is Mother of ALL Gods children, loves everyone equally and unconditionally and we are to imitate OurMother. In some lives however, her love is sadly not reciprocated, she is not honoured, much to her sorrow. I believe this is the truth on OurLady’s, and GOD’S perspective on those of other denominations ( who are nevertheless, it must be acknowledged, more unashamedly and effectively Christian than some allegedly Christian, condescending Catholics), lapsed Catholics and, even within the Catholic Church, what Our Lady and Mother refers to as “A false Christ…a false church”. Regarding the “limited knowledge”, none of us know everything, to presume so would be very proud and arrogant. Say the Rosary with childlike love and trust and your Mother will obtain for you all the light you need…hence the title of StLouis de Montford’s book “The Secret of The Rosary”. God Bless 🙂

  19. Bob Hayes @14.
    There are silences and there are silences and some silences are a matter of conscience, that inner sacred place that belongs only to the individual. Respecting a person’s autonomy and right to the sacredness and primacy of conscience sometimes calls for silence.

  20. Linda, Derry says:

    @ Nuala: With respect Nuala, there is no excuse for any priest, or any Christian, not speaking out vociferously, without undue deference to or fear of public opinion, political correctness or unpopularity in the eyes and minds of the spiritually and morally ignorant and exerting every effort possible to prevent the murder of babies, an extremely serious sin, an intrinsic EVIL in fact, for which there is never, ever any excuse. Our Lady refers, truthfully, with concern for their salvation, to such priests as being ” like dumb dogs”…ever in perfect harmony and concurrence with her son, and Our Lord, JESUS, and as a perfect Mother, Our Lady tells people what they sometimes need to hear, not just what they want to hear. God Bless 🙂

  21. Eddie Finnegan says:

    ‘What Our Lady and Mother refers to as “a false Christ…a false church”‘ Linda, Derry@18
    Our Lady refers, truthfully, with concern for their salvation, to such priests as being ” like dumb dogs”’ Linda, Derry@20
    Chapter & Verse, Lindalove. You are leaving us entirely undereducated. 🙁

  22. Con Devree says:

    I’m afraid Fr Hoban overstates his case.
    In 2005, Cardinal Bergolio gave an extraordinary pro-life sermon, exhorting the faithful to fight abortion and the culture of death, and not relent in the face of persecution, even if “they deliver you to the courts.” Two years later, he described abortion as a ruthless “death penalty” and approved a document which instructed that Holy Communion be denied those facilitating abortions, including politicians. As Pope, he has personally joined Italy’s March for Life, implored legislators to defend the unborn, and stated every unborn child killed through abortion has the face of Jesus Christ. Yet because he has also said that Catholic opposition to abortion—and the Church’s other moral doctrines—need to be seen as flowing from the centrality of the Gospel, and not in isolation from it, a multitude of pundits declared he was somehow rebuking bishops. But the bishops are doing no more than what Cardinal Bergolio did as an episcopal leader in Argentina himself, and in a recent meeting with Cardinal Dolan, Pope Francis affirmed the American bishops’ public stands.

  23. Linda, Derry says:

    @Eddie: With respect Eddie, I get the impression on this forum that you seem to be under the impression that other people are accountable and answerable to YOU. Wrong. Maybe take responsibility for your own ignorance and your own soul and pray and read up on your faith YOURSELF, rather than trying to thuggishly throw your weight around and pathetically attempt to bully and intimidate everyone who does not worship at the self-created altar of the non-deity that is EddieFinnegan. God Bless 🙂

  24. Eddie Finnegan says:

    Linda, I can’t help being a thug – it’s how they raired me. I can’t help being a bully – how could I survive otherwise on a site where dogmatism is everyone’s prerogative, right, left and centre? I can’t help being pathetic since you’ve just evicted me from my godhead. And as for my ignorance, it’s too crass for mending.
    But Linda, you launched yourself among us a few weeks ago with a conviction and ferocity that no twee smiley face or ‘God Bless’ can ameliorate. Your Christian Faith seems to make much of imprisoning its Founder securely in the Tabernacle, where He can be visited ever so secretively, while His Mother seems to have furnished you with quotable quotes on every aspect of a priesthood her Son founded and on the strengths and weaknesses of the apostles He chose. Curious indeed that, for all my “reading up” on the faith, your Marian quotes and references remain hidden.
    Colm Tóibín has just failed to win a Booker for his “Testament of Mary”. In fact he’s amazed that nobody in Ireland got around to burning it in the past year. Time was . . .! Linda, when you bring out your “Testament of Mary”, I’ll be chief bonfire stoker. That should help your Booker chances no end.

  25. Linda, Derry says:

    Lol!! Thanks Eddie…. God Bless 🙂

  26. Still no sign of the sources of the Mary quotations. But then, Eddie, we all knew without having to ask. Obviously she alone chooses whom she favours.

  27. Eddie @24 – I fear I am not half as amused by this as I would like to be. Linda clearly believes in the complete authenticity of all the locutions she presents here as those of Our Lady. Colm Tóibín on the contrary knows that in quoting Mary he is writing fiction, and you know that too. I would have been far more impressed if you had tried to be less witty and more patient and kind in explaining to Linda why the church has to confine its understanding and explication of the deposit of faith to what can be sourced in the canon of scripture.
    Given the growing volume of such locutions, and the numbers of Catholics who derive part of their faith from them – as well as the growing gulf of mutual understanding that is likely to result in the church – this is surely a better opportunity for patient and respectful teaching and learning than for elaborate and potentially hurtful put-downs. Derision is surely an inappropriate response to someone who has had very different formative experiences – and where the difference could actually be bridged by a different approach.
    At present Linda is very likely to see you as being casually disrespectful to Our Lady, as well as to herself. If you cannot take the trouble to explain patiently and respectfully why that is not your intent, could the moderator try to find someone who can – among the many qualified members of the ACP? This exchange can only deteriorate further if pursued in the same spirit, without a bridging intervention.

  28. Linda @25 – I posted mine before I had seen your response to Eddie @24 – and now see I had vastly underestimated your tolerance of satire. Apologies to both for my misjudgement – but I still think there is scope here for a detailed explanation of the difference between the authority of scriptural revelation and that of later supposed sayings of those to whom we all pray.

  29. Eddie Finnegan says:

    Sean@27 & 28
    For old veterans of our time of day, it must sometimes strike you as well as me that not only is life too damn short but even eternity may be somewhat curtailed for the enlightenment you encourage me to practise and the bridges you’d like to see me pontifying. I’ve found variety of experience and expression the spice of this forum for the past three years. I’ve tried every ruse and cajolery in my armoury to build bridges to those who should be the heart of this site, namely the (parish) priests of Ireland – including Derry and Armagh. I’m not sure that even Pope Francis, with all his new-found patience, charity and respect for all, would be up to building bridges to such experts in derision as Linda,Derry@23.
    But Sean, I think I’m going to pass this one back to the Derry Team. I think some sort of rather complex swivel bridge is required for the Linda Project, but you’re all dab hands at that in the Maiden City. Nearly fifty years ago at Trench House a Derryman, Jim McKeever, tried to smooth some of the rougher edges off our Armagh approach to football. Jim’s textbook had little effect on me. However, another young Derryman that year was stressing the need for good scaffolding in any bridge-building we might attempt. Where’s Heaney the Scaffolder now that we need him? I think the Linda Project is all yours, Sean. Come to think of it, Sean(Derry) might be up for a bit of bridge-building too. As Linda says, 🙂 God bless!

  30. Sean O`Conaill@27 and 28, to be “casually disrespectful to Our Lady” would be bad, but even worse would be the deliberate and persistent disrespect shown in the inventions, fabrications and manipulations of Fr. Gobbi and of his followers in the church, putting words in the mouth of Our Lady and using them to counter the efforts of the Church to respond to and implement the teachings of V.11.
    I wish you well with the programme of education you are recommending, and I hope the process and its results are published.

  31. Eddie @29 and mjt @30.
    My first guess as to the source of Linda’s quotes from Our Lady (e.g. priests as ‘dumb dogs’) was Medjugorje. I had forgotten Fr Gobbi. Having Googled those quotes I am still in the dark as to Linda’s source. And if it is indeed the late Fr Gobbi, what evidence do we have that he was not simply sincere (but unbalanced) rather than a deliberate fabricator of locutions? Linda’s refusal to cite her sources does, of course, provoke suspicion and undermine her credibility – but there is still no conclusive evidence that she is deliberately posting what she knows to be untrue.
    Eddie – I am already involved in some tentative bridge-building up here in Coleraine – across the Reformation divide. This teaches me that an unbalanced Catholic Marianism is a severe obstacle to Christian unity. However, we are all works in progress and if people pray sincerely – as Marian Catholics tend to do – and if they make themselves open to learning something new every day – the genuine light of the Holy Spirit can always break in. Derogatory assumptions made on the basis of the evidence we have so far for Linda’s sources and intentions, and her degree of self-entrenchment, are surely unwise. Surely true inclusiveness and the call for respectful dialogue must also embrace those Catholics we deeply disagree with?
    It is precisely because the participants in online exchanges will likely never meet in the same physical space that those exchanges too often deteriorate into a futile pursuit of the ultimate put-down. That’s happening everywhere on the Internet right now. I would prefer to explore the limits of what an unremitting respect – and a refusal to joust – might achieve. If I were ever to run into Linda, or Sean (Derry), I would like to think we could at least pray and chat together amicably. An inter-Catholic sectarianism is the very last thing we need up here.
    As to how long it might take Linda to realise that she cannot credibly quote Our Lady here from a non-scriptural source without citing that source, don’t we all need to believe in the power of grace? After all, she hasn’t done it since being called for it.

  32. Eddie Finnegan says:

    I see that Fr Gobbi and all three cardinals (Ecuador, Hong Kong & Antioch) who ‘imprimatured’ his ‘interior locutions’ have passed on to the Elysian Fields reserved for MMP devotees. No doubt, they have left many of the impressionable behind them to carry on the circum-locutions. They make much of the fact that Fr Gobbi held a particularly favoured place in the heart of Pope John Paul II who often concelebrated with him. The Legionaries attached great importance to similar favours and facilities vouchsafed to their Father Marcial Maciel. But I suppose naive gullibility never stopped a man getting canonised a saint. When it comes to locutions from on high, give me Moses or Muhammed any day, or even Our Lady of Ardboe, the kinetic statues of Ballinspittle, or the sun dancing in the skies over Mayo or half-way between Lisbon and Porto.
    Sean@31: just saw your post as my courier was clicking his heels impatiently by my desk. I agree with much of your approach. The most I would attribute to followers of Gobbi et al is a childish, rather than childlike, impressionability – certainly not charlatanism in any form.
    Glad to hear you’re based up where I did my first few months of teaching – on the D & C rather than Derry side of the Bridge. God rest old Canon Close (circa 1965) – a lovely man.

  33. Sean O’Conaill @31. I don`t know enough about Fr. Gobbi to doubt his personal sincerity, but I am certainly not impressed by a lot of the “prophetic” material which emanated from him, and so have suspicions about the movement following in his wake and some alarm at the number of priests, especially young ones, who are claimed to be devotees. And personally I find it galling to be patronised by one of his followers as if I were some lower form of spiritual being because I am not impressed by all that, and then exhorted to improve myself by getting to know and love the stuff! To give her due, Linda didn`t hide her sources to me when I asked her away back, though she was tardy in admitting the same things when being pressed by Eddie Finnegan, maybe teasingly, maybe in fear of what would follow if she did.
    I agree with you that we should seek means of securing unity in the Church, yet allow for the many rooms in the mansion Eddie Finnegan has mentioned a couple of times, that is, the variety of perspectives inevitable in any congregation. I think that many in the Church are annoyed rather than divided by some of the issues we have been discussing on this site. For example things like the saying of The Hail Mary during Mass, prayers to angels, the Prayer to St. Michael often recited by congregation and priest after Mass, are devotions extraneous to the Mass, and annoy me personally, though I can understand their appeal and helpfulness to many others, so I can live with them, even though I think them out of place in the Mass. But I think Sacred scripture and time-honoured spiritual traditions are the only sure bases for knowing that. By and large, moving and bleeding statues and internal locutions are not.
    And while I agree with you that we should keep a civil tongue in our heads while discussing these, there are issues that require opposition rather than tolerance, questions so troubling to many here, about governance in the church, the obligation of obedience to religious superiors who aren`t deserving of it, conscience, the roles of women in the Church, the new translations and the story of their making being only a few examples. Surely the only secure basis for a Catholic to have a position on all of these is the Word of God in Sacred Scripture, which is why it`s important when people quote scripture that it is in fact scripture, and not some interior locution or delusion suffered by no matter how pious or sincere a person. It is only intellectual good manners not to quote Mary outside what we know she said from Scripture, apart from being appallingly mendacious to pass off as hers something which is not. Christ didn’t come to set up a coterie or a sect with initiates who are in the know, and a lot of amadans who don`t. Presumably the real Mary knew Him well enough to understand that, so I can`t think she would be doling out scraps of wisdom (often wrong!) in pseudo-scriptural language, especially as it is so often tainted by a vindictive, rebarbative streak as is found in Fr. Gobbi.

  34. Bob Hayes says:

    Nuala (no. 19) –
    ‘There are silences and there are silences and some silences are a matter of conscience, that inner sacred place that belongs only to the individual.’
    There is no such thing as ‘that inner sacred place that belongs only to the individual’, because God knows all. Unfortunately, the ‘primacy of conscience’ ideology all too often leads to grandiose attempts to subordinate God to personal viewpoints.

  35. Linda, Derry says:

    LOL!! Havin a good oul gossip there boys? Apologies if my outspoken and unflinching devotion to OurMother upsets…what can I say…I’ve ALWAYS been a ‘Little Gobbi’! Lol! 🙂 That said, you may get used to the uncompromising Marian Devotion as I won’t be flinching anytime soon, EVER in fact. Devotion to Our Mother in the Church and the World is only going to be on the up from here on, she DID say we have been living in the time of Satan’s Triumph, but that, “in the end, MY IMMACULATE heart WILL triumph…with the wonder of the woman clothed in the sun”….in perfect unison with the Sacred Heart of Jesus of course.The two are, always have been and always will be inseparable. God Bless 🙂

  36. Con Devree’s comment (@22) seems to have been lost in a welter of smiley faces and sneers just like the actual statements of Pope Francis in his famous interview. To say Brendan Hoban is overstating his position is an understatment – pardon the pun. The ‘obsession’ of (some) clergy with issues of sexual morality refers to a pastoral hardline insensitivity not to their preaching and teaching platform as he himself illustrated as bishop and cardinal and continues to illustrate as Pope. Spinning is Brendan’s forte even to the point of misrepresenting the opinion of the Bishop of Ferns.

  37. @34.
    Bob, you are right as I quoted somewhere else, JH Newman said ‘sublime unlooked for doctrine, yet most true! To every one of us there are but two beings in the whole world, the individual and God’. However it is a very lonely place when making a decision of conscience and then to carry out that decision using our free will. God will not intervene no matter how evil the act is. Even within the hierarchy, God did not intervene to prevent free acts of the men who perpetrated abuse.
    On conscience, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger said, ‘Over the pope as the expression of the binding claim of ecclesiastical authority, there still stands one’s own conscience, which must be obeyed before all else, even if necessary against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority. This emphasis on the individual whose conscience confronts him and her with a supreme and ultimate tribunal, and one which in the last resort is beyond the claim of external social groups, even of the official church, also establishes a principle in opposition to increasing totalitarianism’.
    The silence of the ACP on the abortion debate was not in support of abortion, but of the awareness of the sacredness of an individual’s conscience and free will.

  38. mjt @33 and Linda @35
    I haven’t read enough about Fr Gobbi to be able to echo what MJT says about a ‘vindictive, rebarbative streak’, but I would go along with the rest of MJT’s reservations about an unbalanced Marianism. I see above all two dangerous tendencies in the latter.
    First a tendency to replace the ‘be not afraid message’ of the entire Bible, and of Jesus himself, with a ‘be very afraid’ of some impending catastrophe. The Mary of the Gospels dwelt spiritually in perfect peace and trust in the Father, and never issued dire warnings, especially about any differences of opinion among the apostles or disciples. (For example we are not told what view she may have taken of the radical dispute between Peter and Paul over whether Gentiles should be circumcised, and that dispute went far deeper than any difference today between priestly reform movements and the magisterium.)
    Secondly Mary in scripture NEVER points to herself. Instead she herself prayed first to the Father, and then, with reference to Jesus, said ‘do as he tells you’. There is nowhere in scripture even a hint that she would ever say: “in the end, MY IMMACULATE heart WILL triumph…with the wonder of the woman clothed in the sun”. I see this as out of character with the Lady of the Gospels – who would surely point to the mercy of the Father and the triumph of the Cross. Surely the essence of an immaculate heart is that it is never self-referencing, always self-effacing, entirely focused on the Trinity.
    If the power of evil was not conclusively conquered by the Cross, then that sacrifice was simply not enough. That belief is surely not within the parameters of Catholic orthodoxy.
    So I pray the Rosary every day at least once, in the belief, that the triumph of the cross is both its central focus, and the central focus of Our Lady. I do not doubt Sister Lucia’s sincerity, but I believe that if she did indeed say what Linda reports, she made the mistake of putting her own beliefs about the centrality of Our Lady’s suffering heart into Our Lady’s mouth, without realising the full implications of that for the potential damage to the respect that scripture gives to Mary’s perfect humility, and to the centrality of the Cross.
    And I too confine my understanding of what Our Lady did certainly say to what can be found in scripture. I believe it is Catholic doctrine, supported by St Thomas Aquinas, that no private revelation can surpass, correct, improve, or complete what scripture tells us. Far too often these private revelations and locutions have the effect of conveying to some Catholics that scripture is not central either, and not enough. That will always be a barrier to full Christian unity, as well as to thorough Catholic study of scripture itself. That these supposed revelations might also disturb the perfect peace that is the gift of direct prayer to the Holy Spirit is truly deplorable.

  39. Kevin Walters says:

    Sean O’Connell @38
    A wonderful post Sean, giving clarity and understanding, to those who may be led astray, But the question has to be asked, why does the church not give such clarity to the laity.
    kevin your brother
    In Christ

  40. Eddie Finnegan says:

    Fully agree with Kevin@39 on Sean’s excellent post. Thanks, Sean, for following through on your suggestions above.

  41. Linda, Derry says:

    @Sean: With respect Sean, if you base your faith on the doctrine of SolaScriptura ‘The BibleAlone’ then you are not a catholic, you are a Protestant. Furthermore, regarding the myth that OurLady is some sort of disinterested dumb-mute with nothing to say to her children, wrong, very very wrong. Our Mother has had plenty to say, making her presence felt when needed, SINCE the scriptures were written eg Fatima ( where multitudes, including cynical officialdom, witnessed The Miracle of the Sun), Lourdes, and Knock where, although OurMother said nothing, I believe encouraged her children to persevere in their faith under persecution . Fatima, Lourdes, Knock…all with Church approval and of course Medjugorje, still awaiting approval, but bearing immense good spiritual fruit in terms of healings, conversion and peace in the meantime. Never underestimate your Mother Sean, even Satan doesn’t do that. God Bless 🙂

  42. Bob Hayes says:

    Nuala (no. 37) – ‘The silence of the ACP on the abortion debate was not in support of abortion, but of the awareness of the sacredness of an individual’s conscience and free will.’
    Could we also expect silence of the ACP on, say, global warming or the new translation of the Roman Missal – as indicative of its ‘awareness of the sacredness of an individual’s conscience and free will’?
    No, I thought not. The ACP remained silent on abortion because if it had spoken – whatever its stance – civil war would have broken out in the ranks of its supporters.

  43. Joe O'Leary says:

    The “miracle of the sun” was strangely NOT observed by the three young visionaries and photos of the event show people looking at the camera — obviously unaware that such an event is taking place. My mother saw the sun dancing in the sky at Medjugorje but her companion also saw the sun dancing in the sky – from the veranda of her hotel in Milan on the way home! There is NOTHING miraculous about seeing the sun dancing in the sky!

  44. Has Sean O Conaill (@38) forgotten the last readings of the liturgical year with which everyone is familiar ? I paraphrase ‘ of two in the field… one is taken… etc.’ ‘ blessed is the womb that never bore…” etc etc. Yes, there is a script in scripture that reads rather like the statements attributed to MAry by visionaries.

  45. Nuala quotes the Pope against himself ! The Benedict who wrote those words on freedom of conscience also supported automatic excommunication of those who procure or help others to procure abortion. He did not see inconsistency here. Nor is there. Freedom of conscience applies where we are asked to do something against which conscience revolts. What conscience even with the most basic formation can revolt at denying others the freedom to kill ? Also bear in mind the ACP which supported freedom of choice ( as opposed to conscience) on the abortion debate had no problem with the denial of freedom of conscience by Enda Kenny to dissenting parliamentarians. I have not seen a single entry from the ACP condemning Kenny. It might be opportune here to quote Pope Francis on abortion :”Every unborn child although unjustly condemned has the face of Jesus Chirst. Like Christ these aborted children experience the rejection of the world”

  46. Pew View @45.
    I do not see a problem here Pew View. A decision of conscience usually occurs when a person is confronted with a hard choice. If by the person’s choice, the person breaks the law, religious or secular, then there will be sanctions, excommunication or jail. Your sentence, ‘Freedom of conscience applies where we are asked to do something against which conscience revolts’ does not make sense. Nobody asks us to make a free choice. A conscience decision is made by the ‘person alone’. It is made within the depths of our being where we are alone with God, and even God will not intervene.
    Jesus of Nazareth, Socrates, Joan of Arc, Con Colbert, and many others chose to die based on a decision of conscience, ‘I will put my law within them, and write it on their hearts'(Jeramiah).

  47. Linda @41
    As I am sure you know, Linda, the church to which both of us to belong does not require us to believe that Our Lady has appeared or spoken at Fatima, Lourdes, Knock etc. It is the Catechism of the Catholic Church that digests all that is expected of us by way of belief – and nowhere there, not even in the passages referring directly to Our Lady, will you find mention of these apparition sites – or, I believe, any post-scriptural revelation.
    Most importantly, none of the teachings there on Our Lady are sourced to anything supposedly said by Our Lady at these places.
    It follows that you are mistaken in attributing to me a possible ‘sola scriptura’ stance when I say I confine my belief as to what Our Lady has certainly said to what is in scripture. I too respect the church’s doctrinal Tradition – but Our Lady’s supposed appearances and sayings at these modern apparition sites are not part of that.
    As to the alleged ‘miracle of the sun’ at Fatima – that is another matter that makes me seriously question the Fatima apparitions and reported sayings. Had the sun – the star at the centre of the solar system – actually performed the dramatic changes of position described in relation to the earth, this would have been witnessed wherever else on the planet the sun was visible at that time. This did not happen. Nor did the world’s astronomical observatories observe any such phenomenon. Nor did the orbits of the earth or of the moon suffer any sudden major fluctuations – a happening that would surely have caused e.g. earthquakes and tsunamis. These orbits too are intimately connected to the position of the sun in space.
    We are left then with the certainty that the apparent moving/dancing sun phenomenon was confined to the reported perceptions of those at the apparition site that day. Did they see what God wanted them to see, or just what they themselves wanted to see?
    I simply cannot believe that either God or Our Lady would cause in anyone a belief that the sun had moved so dramatically under their influence when in reality it had not – or ever want anyone to stare directly at the sun either. The latter action is known to be first of all optically dangerous, and, second, to be very likely, within seconds, to produce optical distortion – an inability to see clearly what is actually there.
    On the balance of probability, therefore, I believe that the reports of a moving/dancing sun at Fatima derive solely from the strong desire of those there – when told in dramatic, tense circumstances to look at the sun – to see something phenomenal when they did so, combined with the likely optical distortion then caused for very many. The ‘moving statues’ events in Ireland in 1985 strongly attest to the likelihood that if you want to see something happen, and stare long enough at the point where you expect to see it, you may well see what you hope to see. Large crowds are also known to create in individuals an even stronger compulsion to see, or to report that one has seen, what others in such crowds claim they are seeing or have seen.
    For me it is the regular and dependable movement of the earth around the sun, and the constancy of the sun’s position in relation to the earth – the essential conditions for all life on earth – that evoke wonder, gratitude – and faith. Also the very certain miracles of human spiritual consolation, recovery, transformation, insight and growth that come from sincere prayer and faith. I have no doubt that the latter do indeed occur at Fatima, Knock, Lourdes, Medjugorje and wherever else people pray sincerely.
    However, we Catholics are not required to believe that Our Lady is endlessly coming and going, or causing the sun to dance or statues to move – or, above all, endlessly loquacious. If St Patrick and St Columba could, in the deepest adversity, maintain their Catholic faith without such beliefs, so, surely, can the rest of us.

  48. @44 PewView
    I can’t see why echoes of the scriptures in the reported sayings of Our Lady at apparition sites must be seen as proof that Our Lady said those things, or anything else reported. To me those echoes suggest merely that the visionaries have themselves previously encountered scripture. Isn’t that to be expected?
    Or do I misunderstand what you are telling me?

  49. Brendan Cafferty says:

    re Pew View who has a few posts here of strong views. Would be better if (s)he had the courage to put name to it. Not enamoured with people who dont come out into the open.

  50. Joe O'Leary says:

    Pew View, many people’s consciences were revolted at the refusal of abortion to women in difficult and life-threatening circumstances in several high profile cases over the last years, including in Ireland.

  51. Sean O’Conaill @47: You show yourself to be a fine teacher-your exposition is lucid, informed and persausive. But there`s teaching and there`s learning. Can we judge the quality of the teaching on the depth of the learning? We`ll have to wait and see if the learning happens too.

  52. Sean @48.
    Your response is a good example of the working relationship between faith and reason. Blind faith leads one down a blind alley. Integrating faith with reason makes for an authentic faith and will demonstrate to people, especially young educated people, living in the twenty-first century that belief in God is a reasonable option.

  53. Linda, Derry says:

    @Sean: If you don’t mind, I take my instruction on honouring my mother from Jesus Christ not you Sean. I won’t waste my time or yours compiling a whole blether in response to what I perceive to be, in honesty, rubbish. . I haven’t said my Rosary today yet so at the minute my time would be much better spent living the faith rather than discussing it. God Bless 🙂

  54. Linda @53
    You leave me sadly bereft of insight into my mistakes, Linda. However, I too will pray about that, equally confident of the efficacy of the Rosary in bringing light out of darkness. God bless!

  55. Sean (Derry) says:

    Sean O’Conaill, should Catholics take their advice from you, based upon your own personal ‘discernment’ on the authenticity or otherwise of Marian apparitions, shrines and messages or should we look to our Church for guidance?
    Our Lady at Fatima told us (among many other things): “In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”
    The Church appointed a Commission of Canonical Enquiry to investigate the occurrences at Fatima and declared the apparitions to be of supernatural origin and also declared them worthy of belief. It is obvious therefore that if Our Lady’s messages, were opposed to Scripture and Tradition (as you believe) the Church could not have come to that conclusion.
    The fact that Linda, Derry, then chooses to accept the apparition and messages as true, places her in very good and sound company.
    Pope Benedict XV (1918) referred to the occurrences at Fatima as “an extraordinary aid from the Mother of God.”
    Pius XI granted indulgences to those who visited the Shrine.
    Pope Pius XII frequently spoke of Fatima and mentioned it in his encyclical Saeculo exeunte and In October of 1942, he consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as requested by Our Lady at Fatima.
    Pope Pius XII’s Legate, Cardinal Tedeschini, stated that the Pope had witnessed the Miracle of the Sun even though he was in Rome at the time it happened. (Sean O’Conail @47l said, “We are left then with the certainty that the apparent moving/dancing sun phenomenon was confined to the reported perceptions of those at the apparition site that day.)
    At the closing ceremonies during the Second Vatican Council, before all the Catholic bishops of the world, Pope Paul VI renewed Pius XII’s consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and also entrusted entire Church to the care of Our Lady of Fatima.
    Pope John Paul I led a pilgrimage to Fatima and met Sr. Lucy.
    Pope John Paul II visited Fatima on three separate occasions and he beatified the two deceased seers, Jacinta and Francisco. He has also made the Feast day of Our Lady of Fatima universal by ordering it to be included in the Roman Missal.
    Sean O’ Conaill, please pay special attention to the next part.
    During his homily at Mass in Fatima on May 13, 1982, Pope John Paul II said, “The appeal of the Lady of the Message of Fatima is so deeply rooted in the Gospel and the whole of Tradition that the Church feels that the Message imposes a commitment on Her.” He also said, “The Message is addressed to every human being. … Because of the continuing increase of sin and the dangers, such as nuclear war, now threatening humanity, the Message of Fatima is more urgent and relevant in our time than it was when Our Lady appeared 65 years ago.”
    Pope John Paul II attributed his surviving the assassination attempt to the intervention of Our lady of Fatima. The bullet extracted from his abdomen today forms part of the crown of the statue of the Virgin of Fatima.
    Pope Benedict XVI said on a visit to Fatima in, “We would be mistaken to think that Fatima’s prophetic mission is complete” and he also referred to, “…the Lady “come from heaven”, the Teacher who introduced the little seers to a deep knowledge of the Love of the Blessed Trinity ..”
    Pope Francis consecrated his pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima and on 13th October (only 2 weeks ago) Pope Francis again consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
    Sean O’Conaill, it seems that it is not only, Linda, Derry, that is gullible regarding apparitions and messages or maybe it’s just that you are too much in the mind set of those on the other side of the ‘Reformation divide’.

  56. Sean (Derry) @55
    I gave no advice whatsoever to Linda (Derry), nor did I ever say that she was gullible. I stated simply, first that Catholics are not REQUIRED to believe in the Fatima apparitions or associated reported sayings of Our Lady, and second, that I did not believe them, giving my reasons.
    Nothing you have quoted falsifies either of those positions, so your reference to my mindset being ‘on the other side of Reformation divide’ shows merely that you don’t distinguish between what Catholics are required to believe, and what beliefs may be permitted, or recommended by some (and not all!) churchmen. Why is that?
    There are very good reasons for the church remaining cautious in adding to the deposit of faith and the Creeds. In the eleventh century Pope Leo IX believed firmly in the authenticity of a document known as the Donation of Constantine, purportedly proving that the Emperor Constantine I had in the fourth century transferred authority over the western Roman empire to the popes. This document was shown in the fifteenth century to have been a forgery – something the church does not now dispute. Had the authenticity of the ‘Donation of Constantine’ ever become a declared article of Catholic faith the papacy might well not have survived its exposure.
    Since I am not required to believe what you believe in relation to Fatima, it follows that I am permitted NOT to do so, without this warranting any imputation as to my lack of Catholic faith. If you can’t accept this you really need to explain why.

  57. Nuala, freedom of conscience means one can exercise it without penalties, sanctions or excommunication. Neither State nor Church quite rightly gives absolute freedom to conscience ( as instanced when the State intervenes when parents refuse to allow their children to have blood transfusions on grounds of conscience or when the Pope sanctions priests as Francis did recently in the case of an Australian priest who presumably was following his conscience) Enda Kenny sought to coerce the consciences of TD in a way commonly believed to be without justification or good cause in the recent abortion vote. I agree I did not make the point clearly. Benedict is indeed saying that conscience is the final arbiter, you are right of course and that no tribunal secular or ecclesiastical should overrule it for an individual. That is not allowing it the kind of freedom that those under censure from Rome and their supporters believe they should have.

  58. Sean, I agree with what you say there of course. I just noted the fact that Mary issued “no dire warnings” in Scripture did not mean that she was being inconsistent with Scripture in issuing them now to visionaries. I do not disagree with the need for great caution regarding these phenomena.

  59. Nuala, would you have respected Hitler’s freedom of conscience? Would you have remained silent there too? What is your cut off point?

  60. @57.
    Pew View you are still confusing the two issues. Of course there must be sanctions if one is breaking the law either religious or secular. The State has nothing to do with freedom of conscience. The State, the Church or a political party can only react to the consequences of an act of freedom of conscience. Freedom of conscience is between an individual and God and God will not intervene no matter how evil the act is. This is one of the biggest stumbling blocks that prevents many people believing in God. If God is good how can there be evil in the world? The philosopher David Hume put it this way, ‘Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then God is impotent. Is God able to prevent evil, but not willing? Then God is malevolent. Is God both willing and able to prevent evil? Then why is there any evil in the world?

  61. Well, there certainly has been quite the discussion here! What does Mary say in the New Testament, in particular, what does she say while Jesus is engaged in His ministry? The story that comes to my mind and is perhaps, the most illustrative of what Mary says, is the, Wedding at Cana. Note that Mary intercedes for the bride and groom who need more wine for their guests, but, her words are to the servants: “Do whatever He tells you”. My interpretation of this is that, while Mary intercedes for us, she is clear that we take our obedience from the Lord.
    I had seen the book: Mary Speaks to Her Beloved Priests Many Years Ago..
    The only apparition that I am convicted about is Lourdes.
    Interesting discussion, as I say.

  62. Eddie Finnegan says:

    Away back, about three weeks and 62 Comments ago, Brendan brought us a taste of the ACP Leadership’s dogged persistence in taking the Papal Nuncio and the Irish Catholic bishops at their word. Given the response from the Ferns Council of Priests towards the end of the circuit, Brendan was probably right in cutting through Bishop Brennan’s mild irony to the truth that the ACP may well be the Mainstream. As so often happens on THIS FORUM DESIGNED TO BE A VOICE FOR PRIESTS, we lay spouters swarmed in under the radar and for 55 of the 62 subsequent comments dragooned the discussion off into totally irrelevant squabbles on totally extraneous territory. (Yes, 8 of those comments were Eddie Finnegan’s – only 2 of them germane to Brendan’s post!)
    If those with a genuine interest in the forthcoming ACP AGM were to transfer Brendan’s concerns to Fr Sean Duggan’s discussion (‘Has Pope Francis been to Specsavers?’) could the rest of us refrain from our usual practice of hijacking it for our own meandering motives?
    Incidentally, and with all respect to the Bishop of Ferns, there have been a few memorable Bishop Brennans in the life of the Irish Church. Yet when I try to google John Brennan of Cashel, Oliver Plunkett’s friend and fellow bishop, all I get are YouTube videos of Fr Ted’s shoe conecting with Bishop Len Brennan’s posterior as the latter tries to view his miraculous portrait in Ted’s skirting-board. Can this have been the only successful instance of priest-bishop communication in the past two decades?

  63. Nuala, I am not at all confused about the distinction. Conscience must be asserted if one is being pressed or forced to perform some act against which one’s conscience revolts, irrespective of who the agent of pressure is. However, freedom to exercise conscience irrespective of its consequences for others or indeed oneself is not given by either Church or State. Surely once is enough to state this? John the Baptist suffered because he challenged the exercise of badly led or informed consicence on the part of powerful people for which he paid the ultimate price. Jesus likewise. Jesus promised that those who followed him could expect to be persecuted and reviled for challenging the moral choices of others. The State, to give a very recent example decided ( for now anyway) to allow individual doctors and other medical professionals to opt out of performing abortions if their consciences so directed them. Standing idly by while people exercise ‘ freedom of conscience’ is a cop out that is indefensible in anyone’s ethics be the religious or secular. It is just about where one decides to draw a line is it not ? In your case of course there is clearly no line as you would not have demurred had you been in Nazi Germany : you would have adopted what you call a God like detachment.

  64. @64.
    Pew view, an act of conscience is totally free. The pressure or force comes second either to prevent an unlawful act of will or to sanction if one has committed an unlawful act. If I had known what Hitler was going to do I would have prevented him or died in the attempt. I find your assumptions using the holocaust as an example abhorrent. The fact remains: why does God not prevent evil being committed in the world? This is my last comment on the issue.

  65. God’s decision to grant free will to mankind might answer your last question which is not related to the conscience question we were discussing. Where your and the ACP’s silence on abortion is concerned I will sign off with the ancient legal principe: qui tacit consentire.
    Glad to hear on mature reflection you do not now ” respect Hitler’s freedom of conscience”

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