Vatican process against Basque theologian continues

Condemnations, book burnings and persecutions are coming back. Five centuries later, the Inquisition has returned in all its splendor. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has opened a process against the book Jesus: An Historical Approximation by the Basque theologian José Antonio Pagola, to determine if it conforms to Church doctrine.
This is the latest link in a chain of persecution by the Catholic hierarchy whose recent victims include José María Castillo, Juan José Tamayo and Marciano Vidal in Spain, and international figures such as Leonardo Boff and Hans Küng, all of them advocates of the Second Vatican Council and freedom of opinion in the Church.
The Roman investigation has been pushed by the most ultra conservative sector of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference, led by the bishops of Córdoba, Demetrio Fernández, and San Sebastián, José Ignacio Munilla, with the supervision of the bishops’ spokesman, Juan Antonio Martínez Camino, and the consent of cardinal Rouco Varela.
The debate has also flared up because the book has become a religious best-seller (more than 80,000 copies, as well as having been translated into new languages), and it also has the nihil obstat (“nothing to oppose”) and the Imprimatur (canonic authorization) of the former bishop of San Sebastián, Juan María Uriarte. But none of this has kept the Bishops’ Conference from achieving the intervention and getting the text withdrawn, and a process opened against Pagola.
José Antonio Pagola, who has been keeping prudent silence over these last months, acknowledged a few days ago that the publisher (linked to the Marianists) had been obliged by the Bishops’ Conference to withdraw the 6,000 copies still in circulation. According to some sources, a “certification of destruction” of the copies has even been demanded.
The theologian confirmed the opening of a process in Rome: “I accept it as something anticipated, but I don’t feel that I’m either a martyr or a prophet. I try to be a believer who, from his passion for Jesus, tries to contribute to a Church that is closer to the gospel at the service of a more humane world.”
Starting now, a long, slow period begins, one based on secrecy. The theologian doesn’t know exactly what accusations the Vatican is bringing against him. These sorts of processes only resort to the accused for an interrogation for which he cannot prepare himself, and to announce his condemnation or absolution.

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  1. Mary O Vallely says:

    Have just ordered Pagola’s book from Amazon.co.uk
    There are still copies available. I’m intrigued! I am also an adult and prefer to make up my own mind about what I can or cannot read. The reviews sounded promising. Big Brother can advise this little sister but only advise. Don’t forbid. Please.

  2. Joe Gallagher says:

    Those lay persons of us, old enough to remember Vatican II, continue to be amazed at how the church has become more reactionary. My pastor in an Idaho parish(USA) is anything but. Still, there seems to be a return to the church my grand-mother grew up in, in County Rosscommon. I shake my head but just bought a copy of Pagola’s book on amazon.com.

  3. Eddie Finnegan says:

    “But Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition!” – even in the Basque Country.
    “Nihil Obstat La Inquisición Espanyola – especialmente en el Pais Vasco.”
    So their Bishops’ Conference demands a “certificate of destruction”. They obviously want to put all illegally held weapons of Mass distraction beyond use. How do you decommission a gospel (however historically approximate) once it has gone viral?
    Now that we know the four Spanish bishops who delated José Antonio to the CDF, how do we go about finding out who were the Irish bishops, theologians emeriti, young clerics on the make, or delatores laici who shopped our men to Rome?
    Meanwhile at the weekend the CDF’s old Commander-in-Chief was cruising eastwards at 35,000ft importing not arms but “ideas of peace, creative responses, solutions for accepting everyone in his otherness. It is a positive thing; it’s the desire for more democracy, more liberty, more co-operation and a renewed identity. There is always a danger of forgetting a fundamental aspect of liberty: tolerance for others and the fact that human liberty is always a shared liberty.”
    Great stuff that! A bit of it would go a long way on his own home turf. Why export all these creative responses, acceptance of everyone in their otherness and shared liberty to Beirut and Aleppo? It’s not just the offspring of an Arab Spring who could do with a bit of liberty and renewed identity.

  4. Cyril North says:

    The more people are informed about these events the better. Good posting.

  5. Raymond Hickey Bordine says:

    “More than ever I find myself in the hands of God. This is what I have wanted all my life from my youth. But now there is a difference; the initiative is entirely with God. It is indeed a profound spiritual experience to know and feel myself so totally in God’s hands.” Thus the Basque theologian, Pedro Arrupe, prayed at the opening of the 33rd General Congregation of the Society of Jesus [Jesuits]. For proclaiming the teachings of Vatican Council II, John Paul II removed Fr. Arrupe as Father General of the Jesuits.
    Now, some 30 years later, JP II’s protege, Benedict, attempts to suppress another Basque theologian for the same theological crime of thinking original thoughts and publishing them. But, Jose Antonio Pagola will now experience fully the freedom of Vatican Council II and of Fr. Pedro Arrupe as he realizes he is free of the stagnation and morbidity of the Vatican thought police and can now write freely to the People of God.
    Time to go and purchase “Jesus: An Historical Approximation”. Thank you Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for alerting us to some creative, progressive, scholarly work as opposed to the typical propaganda from the Vatican.

  6. Joe O'Leary says:

    “Five centuries later” — no, two. The Spanish Inquisition was closed down, over Vatican protests, only 200 years ago.
    Physical destruction of books inevitably evokes Nazi book burnings, an icon of barbarism in the modern world.

  7. Pádraig McCarthy says:

    “Though I haven’t read it, I understand from a number of sources that Pagola’s book ‘Jesus: An Historical Approximation’ is excellent.” Might we know who is the person who is commending the book? Thank you.
    Pádraig McCarthy

  8. Con Carroll says:

    Professor Tina Beattie. Roehampton university, invititation to speak about the second Vatican Council. theme Mary. was withdrawn, by the bishop of Clifton. Tina along with other people wrote a letter to English Times. August 23 2012, adreesing gay marraige to a Catholic auidence

  9. stan mellett says:

    I have read ‘Jesus; an historical approximation’. So nourishing and so inspiring did I find it that I will re-read when I receive it back from a friend who borrowed it. The reality of Jesus of Nazareth – my Lord and Saviour – in this scholarly work with lavish footnotes in almolst every page – is a gift and service to all followers of Christ. About to enter my 82nd year I had hoped that the fresh air of gospel freedom would permeate the church I love and serve. One never despairs but lives in hope. Sic spero. Sic fiat!

  10. Joe Murray says:

    Jose A Pagola says in his Preface that the purpose of his book is to bring Jesus and his message closer to today’s men and women.
    “My only purpose is that Jesus may continue doing good in those who approach him through these pages”,he says.
    Towards the end of the book,Pagola says that “We Christians need to see Jesus alive and up close,understanding his message,grasp his deepest insights and feel the heat of his passion for God and humanity”.
    Throughout the book Pagola talks of the passion and love for God which Jesus has, and this goes hand in hand with his passion and love for humanity.
    I have read this book twice over recent months and I would say that it is close to the most inspirational book I have ever read.
    I will encourage many friends and family to read the book
    For Jose A Pagola I say “Deo Gratias”!

  11. Donal Dorr says:

    Pagola’s book is by far the best book on Scripture that I have ever read. I’m now reading it for the third time, taking just a page each day to nourish my spirit and my relationship with Jesus.

  12. I have not read this book so I make no comment on its contents.Too often those we have censored have turned out to be the prophetic voices of a generation. Teilhard de Chardin is but one example among many whose words we were denied access to for many years.
    Open, honest discussion leads to appreciation and understanding of different points of view. Attempts to silence debate will in the end rebound on those imposing the silence.

  13. Many thanks for this. I have just ordered the book on Amazon. It was quite expensive but it sounds as though it will be worth every penny. So far every theologian I have come across thanks to the CDF attacking them has been well worth reading,

  14. Con Carroll says:

    I have just got the book. It looks interesting. We hope many will identify with Pagola vision and theme about Jesus, instead of the Jesus of the institutions. Exploring and been challeneged is good for humanity.

  15. Joe O'Leary says:

    When good theologians are suppressed or discouraged their places are taken by mediocre pietists, with the result that Catholic theology as a whole deservedly loses esteem and becomes labeled as a sectarian product.

  16. Dairne Mc Henry says:

    I have been reading Pagola’s book over recent weeks. It is one of the few books I have ever read which has really made Jesus come alive for me. I am greatly looking forward to finishing it, so that I can start it again. Despite the obvious scholarship and years of research behind it, it is very easy to read and the translation is excellent.
    People thinking of getting it might like to know that it is also available through Kenny’s Bookstore in Galway – which does not charge for postage.

  17. Sandra Mc Sheaffrey says:

    I have bought a few copies of this book over the last few months and have just ordered another one from the Book Depository, free worldwide postage. I look in regularly at the iglesiadescalzada site, and also at Pagola’s weekly commentary on the gospel. I have a free pdf version in spanish that I found somewhere on the net. I can say that the book does exactly what the title suggests: it brings Jesus out of the set pieces of the New testament by setting him in his own place, in his own time. Refreshing, I am so glad I discovered this book.

  18. Doesn’t Fr. Pagola deny the need for Jesus’s sacrifice for sinners? This being the case, the Vatican has a duty of care to protect its fold from heresy, and this duty was imposed on them by this same Jesus “who hears you, hears Me”

  19. Joe O'Leary says:

    Maybe he just says the Father did not seek Jesus’s death as something demanded by His honor? That would be a rather anodyne point. http://www.uca.edu.sv/noticias/nota.php?texto=586566121
    He does talk of Jesus as supreme priest.
    It would be enlightening if the Vatican would just state their objections on such points. As it is, they give the impression that any attempt to envision the human, historical Jesus is anathema to them.

  20. I have never been able, to reconcile the image of the father in the prodigal son, with God the Father who demands our repayment of sin in Purgatory. Does anyone have an answer? I would really appreciate one.

  21. John Lindsay says:

    As someone else has already commented, [it’s] one of the most inspirational books on Jesus and the Reign of God I have ever read, and am still reading. I find myself reading lots of pages 2 or 3 times, not because they are complicated but rather so very full. I have come across a few paragraphs which make me wonder, as someone trying to live by Church teaching as much as possible, if I am in agreement – but it’s good to be challenged to reflect on what Jesus and the Church mean for me. It has certainly reminded me that living in the kingdom is not about doctrine or dogma.

  22. Raymond Hickey Bordine says:

    Debbie [#22], the wrath and anger of God the Father is an Old Testament symbolic interpretation of the Father. The father in the Prodigal Son allegory is from Jesus in the New Testament. The whole mission of Jesus’ time with us was to show the Divine love towards its creation——–all creation. He was attempting to move us past the old wrathful and angry God of the Old Testament. Understandings change and evolve, regardless of what the Vatican would have us believe! It’s time to move from an angry God to a loving God. A God who is in love with all Creation; a father who loves all of his daughters and sons regardless. The Prodigal Son story taught all of us that all a child needs to do is keep faith [trust] with the parent and then all mistakes [sins] are invisible to that loving parent. Anyone who has raised a child, understands that message.
    This change in understanding of the Divine that Jesus was proclaiming, was a real obstacle for those in the hierarchy of his time and thus made him a target of their own wrath. That wrath is very much present today in the hierarchy that tries to target those who proclaim the Good News of Jesus in today’s RCC. Those obsessed with power and control scurry away from the love and forgiveness that comes from the message of Jesus. That sort of love undermines the power and authority that the hierarchs think they possess. Jesus taught us otherwise in his message that love and forgiveness are from him. Quite a shift from the Old Testament!

  23. Robert Burnett says:

    Like so many people I find Pagola’s book a tremendous and challenging way of getting to know Jesus better. Jon Sobrino says the following about the book: “At my age, I no longer read many books, but I read Pagola’s from cover to cover. It has helped me grow in age, wisdom and grace. I recommend it to many people, Christians and non-believers. If Monseñor Romero were alive, he would be quoting from it in his Sunday homilies.”
    You can get copies at £18 p&p from the Romero Trust.
    Regarding trying to understand the mentality of the Vatican, Bishop Devine gave an interesting insight at the weekend “”To seek to coerce loyalty to the party above loyalty to individual conscience calls to mind the worst kind of totalitarian politics,”. Now obviously he was not referring to the Catholic Church but ‘pot calling kettle black’ does spring to mind.

  24. #24 Raymond Hickey Bordine,
    Thank you for your reply, and I can see where you are coming from, but this does not answer my question regarding Purgatory. Why are we told that our sins are forgiven but we still have to pay? I really can’t understand.

  25. Raymond Hickey Bordine says:

    Debbie #26, to specifically give my best thoughts about ‘purgatory’, I would say that it doesn’t make sense with the Jesus concept of the ‘father’ in the allegory of ‘the prodigal son”. For it to make any sense with Jesus and his spirituality, the father in that allegory would have had to impose some sort of penalty on the prodigal son before he could be forgiven [like clean out the barn for the next two years, etc.] But the father does NOT do that; he welcomes the son home and we have a feast! The story seems clear to me: God loves his children and does not extract penalties for misdeeds. For the loving father of the Jesus movement, there is only love and no wrath for those who slip up. The concept of ‘purgatory’ was one of those accretions dogmatized by the RCC hierarchy in the 12th century even though it was a pre-Jesus concept. It was one of those ‘fear’ notions rooted in Jewish religion that Jesus came to overturn with his ‘Good News’. Not much good news if you have to clean out the barn for the next two years! ‘Purgatory’ has nothing to do with Jesus and the spirituality he was an advocate for which is love and equality for all. But it does serve the hierarchs well to keep the people in line and in fear. Just the sort of thing Jesus did and does deplore!

  26. Raymond Hickey Bordine #27
    Do you think that there could be a Purgatory but no Hell? Maybe for people who die unrepentant and that there through the Mercy of God get a chance to do penance?

  27. Joe O'Leary says:

    “with God the Father who demands our repayment of sin in Purgatory.” Newman, in The Dream of Gerontius, presents it very differently. Referring to the stigmata of St Francis, a mark of love, the Angel tells the Soul: “the Almighty Love, Doth burn, ere it transform”. Listen to Elgar’s sublime setting. This is true of life on earth as well!

  28. Raymond #27
    There could be no indulgences without Purgatory. Another element in the power structure. Mind you, the precise quantification of indulgences has had to be abandoned, partly, no doubt, because of its inconsistent application. The general question of squaring a time limited Purgatory with an infinite afterlife still has to be sorted out. The only logical answer is to abolish Purgatory (like its sister Limbo).

  29. Raymond Hickey Bordine says:

    Debbie#28, as I understand things from Jesus’ activities and teachings in the New Testament, if an individual is trying to be in harmony with the Divine [Higher power, Spirit of the Universe, etc.] and even though experiences a lot of failures in that attempt to be in harmony, there is neither a purgatory nor a hell. God is in love with the People of God [those who have some sense of a higher power], and we all know that lovers make mistakes, some minor some serious, all the time. That doesn’t mean that the love relationship is broken. The allegory of The Prodigal Son is the example of that: the father continues to love the son no matter what the son does. That’s what it means when we speak of God’s love for us as being ‘unconditional’. There is NOTHING we can do that would destroy that love relationship. As St. Paul tells us, “nothing can separate us from the love of God.” It was St. Augustine who said, “Love God, and do what you will.” In other words, it isn’t what you do that is important; it’s that you love God that is key.
    Let’s look more closely at the allegory of the prodigal son. The son thought he was being defiant and hateful of his father when he left the farm. But, obviously he still had love for his father when he decided to head home again. That father-son relationship was still intact even though the son would probably say when he left that it wasn’t. The father felt it was intact or he wouldn’t keep going to the hill to look for his son. Even when parents ‘disown’ a child for some perceived evil act, they still have love for their child deep in their subconscious [soul]. And the same is true for kids towards their parents.
    So, I believe that once an individual commits in love to God, it is for the life of that soul. That soul can do NOTHING to turn off that love towards God. The loving father never gives up on the child even when the child might give up on the father. Love really is eternal.

  30. Sean (Derry) says:

    Raymond Hickey Bordine @ 27 and 31.
    The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. The Church also affirms the existence of purgatory and its necessity for purification and the assurance of eternal salvation there after.
    Just because we can all come up with our own ideas of how we would like things to be, does not make these ideas true. As everyone knows there is only one truth and neither your musings nor mine can overturn the dogmas of our Catholic Faith regarding hell or purgatory.

  31. Sean (Derry) #32
    Sean, I’m sure Raymond is well aware ( as am I ) of what the Church teaches, however, what Raymond was trying to do was explain how the “Prodigal son” and Purgatory can be explained, as in my opinion, they don’t tally. How can the Father not impose any penalty (or “purification”) on the son, but yet the Church says he does, but maybe you can explain how they do? ( in plain English )

  32. Raymond Hickey Bordine says:

    Dear Sean from Derry, of course there is some truth in what you say but your solution of merely ‘submitting’ to the ‘dogma of the RCC’ ignores the question by imposing as ‘truth’ whatever the RCC declares.
    The Second Vatican Council of some 50 years ago proclaimed in the document “Declaration On Religious Freedom” that each of us is encouraged and indeed required to formulate our own conscience on spiritual matters. They went so far as to say that even when our well-formed and educated conscience directs us in a direction opposed to the official magisterium of the RCC, we are bound to follow our own conscience. St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the doctors of the church, made this same statement centuries earlier. Socrates, centuries before Aquinas, taught us that the unexamined life is not worth living. None of us needs ever to submit to totalitarian thinking.
    As human beings and as Christians, yes even as Catholics, we cannot just submit our reasoning powers and talents to some sort of dogmatic and legalistic fascist model of perception. It is our pleasure and duty as human beings to explore spiritual concepts ourselves. That is what Jesus was all about in his views on the new spiritual adventures of religion, attempting to replace the old legalistic and dogmatic religion of his day with the new, creative, and life-giving insights that he offered us.
    So, in the words of the Benedictine nun and professor Sr. Joan Chittister, “Don’t confuse Jesus Christ with the RCC; frequently they have nothing in common.” In my view, when the RCC diverges from the philosophy of Jesus, the Christ, I and my family walk with Jesus. God bless!

  33. Sean (Derry) says:

    Debbie, it we look at little closer at the parable we may find the relationship between The Prodigal Son and the purpose of Purgatory (purification) that you seek.
    Scripture teaches us that, nothing unclean will enter the kingdom of Heaven, Rev. 21:27, and ‘God calls us to complete holiness’ (Mt. 5:48),
    So too with The Prodigal Son, he has repented of his past sins and journeys from ‘a far country’ to the household dirty and dishevelled from the lifestyle he has now turned his back on. The father is delighted to see him again, and wants only what is best for his son. (The Father waits with open arms, but we must still travel to him). Does the Father want his son to enter his home (heaven) in his current unclean state with the blemishes of his past? Of course not, as a loving Father he wants his son to be first restored to a perfect state, so whilst the son “was yet at a distance” from the house the father ran to him and orders `Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet”. After this ‘purification’, which is done out of love (and not vengeance) the son has been fully restored and is now ready to join the feast that has been prepared specially for him.
    In a similar way if we repent from our sins we are forgiven but we still must be purified through Purgatory before entering Heaven.
    The Catholic Church teaches, “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.” (CCC 1030)

  34. Sean (Derry) #35
    Thank you Sean, and I appreciate what you are trying to justify (suffering in purgatory), but I don’t think that placing a ring and cloak on someone is quiet the same thing. No, still doesn’t make sense to me. Also, Jesus told the woman caught in adultery to go, her sins were forgiven, He didn’t order her to suffer for a while first.

  35. Joe O'Leary says:

    The focus on limbo and purgatory is a symptom of the eschatological deficit of the contemporary church. Vatican II talked of the Kingdom, not of speculative postmortem states. The richest book on purgatory in the last 50 years is by a historian, Le Goff, The Birth of Purgatory. It is one of those ideas to which theology is bidding farewell, it seems. Were theologians to start cranking out books on limbo and purgatory once again, the result would be ghastly, another exercise in papier-mache restorationism.

  36. Sean (Derry) says:

    Raymond, indeed the Catholic Church does promote Religious Freedom as in the same way that Our Lord gives us free will, for both of these allow us to seek, find and know the one true religion or alternatively to ignore what God has imprinted on each human heart . Not only is each individual free to choose, he is obliged to choose.
    “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20
    “Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made. As a result, they have no excuse; for although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks. Instead, they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened.” Romans 1:20-21
    I totally agree with you that we must inform our conscience but we must be clear that a conscience is not some personal sense of feeling that emanates from our self but has at its very foundation and core the law of God to love good and avoid evil.
    So whereas most Catholics agree with the Church that the conscience is used by guide a person’s behaviour, many then choose to ignore Catholic teaching with regard to forming their conscience. In fact Vatican II Dignitatis Humanae (Declaration on Religious Freedom) to which you refer, tells us quite clearly, “14: “In the formation of their consciences, the Christian faithful ought carefully to attend to the sacred and certain doctrine of the Church. [Cf. Pius XII, radio message, March 23, 1952: AAS 44 (1952) pp. 270-278] For the Church is, by the will of Christ, the teacher of the truth. It is her duty to give utterance to, and authoritatively to teach, that truth which is Christ Himself, and also to declare and confirm by her authority those principles of the moral order which have their origins in human nature itself.”
    In seeking the truth to properly inform our conscience, Catholics can find no more certainty and truth than a dogma of the Catholic Church for a dogma is not just an opinion but is a truth revealed by God himself. The truth of God, revealed by God, does not change, as God himself does not change; Heaven and earth will disappear but my words will not disappear. As one theologian said: “To deny one dogma of the Church is to deny the authority of God who revealed it.”
    Fortunately or unfortunately the Catholic Church will not force you or anyone else to follow these dogmatic truths nor will Jesus force anyone to follow him. Canon Law confirms this: Can. 748 ß2 “It is never lawful for anyone to force others to embrace the Catholic faith against their conscience.”
    Each person is individually invited to follow Jesus through the one true Catholic Church and the Catholic Church is obliged to teach each of us these truths. However you and I will always have the ‘freedom’ to accept or reject them, but that is not to suggest that either choice will produce the same consequences for us. The existence of hell or purgatory is not dependent upon whether or not you or I believe in them but I suggest that if we don’t believe in them before death we will certainly know a lot about one of them after death.

  37. Raymond Hickey Bordine says:

    My Dear Sean from Derry, I believe we have two different perspectives on the formation and importance of personal conscience. I am not questioning that Christians need to ‘attend to’ the teachings of the Catholic church. I consider them and attend to them along with the teachings of some of the distinguished professors from the most respected universities of the world as expressed in their lectures and in their published writings. There is a VAST world of scholarship and research OUTSIDE the walls of the Vatican. I believe we have a Christian and human mission to explore all sources of information when we are forming our consciences on any particular issue.
    It is incumbent on us as thinking beings not to limit that source to a single entity such as the RCC and run the risk of obtaining a restricted and stunted version of truth. The very philosophy of fascism would have us do that limited sort of research and in fact would compel us to only listen to what it dictates. That is in direct contradiction to what Jesus encouraged. Jesus was opposed to legalism, dogmatism, and totalitarianism that would impose upon his followers mental and spiritual restraints championed by those seeking authority and control over their spiritual development and creativity.
    No, Sean, I believe you are missing the point entirely. I would recommend breaking out of the officially-sanctioned books, lectures, and research of the RCC and exploring what the vast world of knowledge and insight that resides outside those bulkheads has to offer. God bless.

  38. Sean (Derry) says:

    Debbie @ #36, can I ask, do you ever pray for the dead? Is there any merit in offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the dead?
    Is there any difference for someone who dies in a state of grave sin as opposed to one who dies without the stain of sin on his soul?
    “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap” Malachi 3:2.
    For some, their sin may be so great that impurities need to be burnt away, whilst for others a good cleansing with soap might do, but either way we will need purified before entering heaven. I read once that someone asked a silversmith how he refined and purified the silver and how he knew when it was pure. He said he had to watch carefully as he held it over the hottest part of the flame and he knew it was purified when he could see his own reflection in it.

  39. Sean (Derry) says:

    Hi again Raymond.
    How can we be sure that anything the Catholic Church teaches is true? and, if we can’t be sure that what the Catholic Church teaches is true how can we be sure that anything taught by the “distinguished professors from the most respected universities” are true?
    Is truth just a personal opinion?
    A lot of very well educated people believe God does not exist, (eg.Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion). If someone believes that God does exist and someone else believes that God does not exist, are both propositions equally valid and true?
    Either God exists or he does not exist, obviously both opinions cannot be correct and true when they are clearly opposed to each other.
    Was Jesus opposed to dogmatism? Was He not being dogmatic, legalistic and totalitarian when he said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me”?
    Was Jesus being ambiguous when he appointed Peter as the head of the one true Church, when he said, “And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”?
    Raymond, there is lots of scope within the Catholic Church for conjecture and debate on many aspects of our faith but equally there are aspects that have been fully explored and discussed and a final decision has been made. As Jesus himself said to his Church, “I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven”.
    Relax Raymond, God has already revealed Himself to us, there is no need for further searching, it has already been done for us. We can still have discussion around things like, global warming, or as it is now known (when it didn’t actually get warmer), ‘climate change’, but I still prefer the old fashioned name, ‘weather’.

  40. Raymond Hickey Bordine says:

    Dear Sean from Derry, I don’t know where you live but here where I live in America, it was the warmest summer in the history of the weather bureau! Thus proving my point, that an individual cannot get a full understanding by only listening to one source and basing his concept of truth on that.
    Professionals who wish to enhance and explore spiritual concepts are NOT anti-Catholic just because they can think. All the quotations that you mentioned in your response [#41] have had their authenticity questioned by Biblical scholars in the field of exegesis. Those quotations are all of dubious reliability as to their source. You wouldn’t know that unless you researched non-Catholic scholars [and some Catholic scholars suppressed by the Vatican]. Whenever a Catholic theologian attempts to assert this fact, he/she is silenced by the Vatican, totally opposed to the spirit of Jesus who encourages freedom to think.
    Read some of the authors from ‘the Jesus Seminar’ or some of the writings of Robert Funk, Roger Haight, Teilhard de Chardin, David Toolan, or Matthew Fox. Or actually ANY non-Catholic theologian and get a glimpse of what has been hidden from your eyes in the Catholic cult. Jesus does not belong to Catholics only; they do have a share in his wisdom but they don’t own him!
    Read some of Thich Nhat Hanh, the Buddhist author and close friend of Thomas Merton; or read Anthony de Mello to get insight into Buddhist thought. Sean, there is a WHOLE spiritual world out there, don’t let the narrow-mindedness and fear-driven direction of the RCC deprive you of examining the wide spectrum of spirituality that lives outside its walls.
    God is LOVE, the opposite of love is FEAR. Jesus came to set us free from fear [“Peace be with you”]. God bless!

  41. Sean (Derry) # 40
    Sean, I think that maybe we have been given a mis-understanding of Who goes to Purgatory. What if Purgatory is in fact a gift from God,or a kindness if you will, where the people who die unrepentant, or, never realizing there was any need for repentance, are sent there to see the hurt their sins caused to God, and others, and finally seeing this, experience true sorrow, and so be forgiven? This would in-fact agree both with there being a Purgatory, and the need for it.
    Perhaps even Hell is in-fact the deepest center of Purgatory?

  42. Sean (Derry) says:

    Debbie, Hell is quite separate from Purgatory. The souls in Purgatory have the certainty of entering Heaven after purification, unlike those in Hell who experience eternal separation from God. Anyone who enters Hell (those who die in a state of mortal sin) has no opportunity of ever reaching Heaven.
    The torments of the damned shall last forever and ever (Revelation 14:11; 19:3; 20:10). They are everlasting just as are the joys of heaven (Matthew 25:46).
    Those who go to Hell, have of their own free will, fully and entirely rejected God, they are evil. No one is cast into Hell unless they deserved to be damned.
    Those who go to Purgatory are the just, who die in venial sin or who still owe a debt of temporal punishment for sin and are cleansed before entering Heaven. I don’t think the Church has determined if Purgatory is a place or a state, nor how long a soul must stay there. It is therefore possible (I think) that this period could range from a few seconds to many years, but we may be putting human time limits on that which may be totally different in the next life.

  43. Sean (Derry) #44
    Doesn’t it say somewhere in the Bible – “out of the Pit You rescued me” or something like that? Surely this means hell?

  44. Joe O'Leary says:

    The eschatological deficit of the Church today — the loss of a hope-filled vision of the coming Kingdom and of the urge to build up God’s Kingdom on earth — is symptomatized by the regression to dogmatic concern with the after-death states of heaven, hell, limbo, and purgatory. But note that even within that narrow perspective, Catholic thinking, especially as represented by John Paul II and Benedict XVI, tends to stress heavily the hope that hell is empty. Benedict’s volume on Eschatology is quite strong on this. The influence of Karl Barth and Hans Urs Von Balthasar goes in this direction.
    Fr Liam Swords was once asked on tv what he thought of Hell, and he answered, “With Karl Rahner I’d say, ‘Hell is the possibility of final loss'”. His bishop scolded him: “When you’re asked a simple question, why can’t you give a simple answer?”

  45. Sean (Derry) says:

    Joe @46, I don’t think Benedict XVI believes hell is empty although he is very much in favour of promoting God’s mercy for those who seek it.
    “Christ came to tell us that he desires all of us in heaven and that hell, which isn’t spoken about much in our time, exists and is eternal for those who close their hearts to his love,” Benedict XVI (2007)
    “One who dies in the state of mortal sin without penitence, closed up within the proud refusal of the love of God, excludes himself from the kingdom of life.” Benedict XVI (2006)
    John Paul II stated, “hell is the ultimate consequence of sin itself… Rather than a place, hell indicates the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy”.
    The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called ‘hell'” (n. 1033).
    Joe I disagree, that the Church is too concerned with the after-death states of heaven, hell, limbo, and purgatory. I hear very little preached by the Church regarding sin, the devil or hell, never mind Purgatory. No, on the contrary, in my experience, most priests prefer a political correct outlook, that nothing is a ‘sin’, therefore no need for confession and because God is good we all get straight to Heaven (no hell, no purgatory) in the end and we all live happily ever after.
    All sounds great and very appealing but unfortunately the truth is, it is not Catholic.
    I believe that the failure of the Church to properly catechise Catholics in the one true faith is the major cause for the current state of affairs and the small number of vocations to the priesthood.
    By all means preach loud and often regarding the love and mercy of God and the greatness of Heaven but we must not fail to preach the FULL truth of the Catholic Church which includes all those less appealing bits.

  46. Mike O'Sullivan says:

    Those listed in the article as being perseuted read like an who’s who of priests that inspire,men who are are true to their calling to bring the good news to all,sadly not all want to hear it

  47. Joe O'Leary says:

    There is good reason for the silence of the clergy on hell, and for the discretion of the popes.
    It would be abuse if a parent told a child, be good or I’ll torture you.
    Is it not abuse also to tell a child, be good or God’ll torture you?
    That is why John Paul II and Benedict XVI have emphasized the hope that hell is empty, appealing to saints like Therese de Lisieux in the process. Also in general they speak of hell as a spiritual state of separation from God, in an effort to get away from the monstrous idea of a punishing sadistic God, which unfortunately can easily leap back into life with the help of an indiscreet picture.
    Martin Luther, who loved to pile on the depression in his confidence that Christ’s word of forgiveness would lift it, spoke very little of a postmortem hell.
    The Church as a whole may not be concerned with limbo and hell, but the Vatican devoted two years of discussion to limbo. Meanwhile the future kingdom of God has disappeared from the Vatican radar screen. In the Pope’s Jesus book we hear that Jesus brought God, is the kingdom in person (autobasileia) and transcended Isaiah’s deluded vision of world peace to preach inner peace instead. All symptoms of a severe eschatological deficit.

  48. Gene Carr says:

    It seems to me that the idea of ‘hell’ as something eternal has always been a part of the consciousness and ‘lived experience’ of humanity. Since people first told and recorded stories in whatever form, from the simplist fairy tale to great epic poems, they have expressed a powerfull intuition of the possibility of tragedy. And it seems to me that the concept of tragedy is inseparable from the idea of ‘something irrevocable’. If it could be reversed it would not be tragedy would it? If ‘hell’ did not exist why would such a concept of tragedy exist in human consciousness at all? Yet it does and the teaching of the Church merely confirms a knowledge that is already there.

  49. Sean (Derry) says:

    Joe @49,
    I don’t think it is anything to do with a ‘eschatological deficit’ with the Pope nor a denial of the truths of hell or Purgatory, but rather a reflection and recognition of the current ‘catechises deficit’ of the population, which renders many unable to grasp anything other than the most simple and noncontroversial, carnal aspects of their faith.
    St Paul explained in 1 Corinthians: ” I, brethren, could not speak to you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal. As unto little ones in Christ.
    I gave you milk to drink, not meat; for you were not able as yet. But neither indeed are you now able; for you are yet carnal.
    For whereas there is among you envying and contention, are you not carnal, and walk according to man?”
    Spiritual doctrines and wisdom were revealed to the Apostles by the Holy Spirit, yet because many (most) of us do not yet have the spiritual maturity to understand such doctrines it does not follow that such doctrines are not true and do not exist. Many are too carnal and seek to only understand in worldly ways, probably why there are still so many factions within what should be the ONE true Church. Maybe we are not ready for the meat until we are first weaned off the milk.

  50. Joe O'Leary says:

    “It seems to me that the idea of ‘hell’ as something eternal has always been a part of the consciousness and ‘lived experience’ of humanity.”
    As far as I know, Buddhism, which is one of the most advanced religions, has only temporary hells.
    ” Since people first told and recorded stories in whatever form, from the simplist fairy tale to great epic poems, they have expressed a powerfull intuition of the possibility of tragedy.”
    Quite, and have used imaginative language about witches, vampires, leprechauns, incubi, erinyes, werewolves, dragons, to flesh out their vision; but the advance of reason and humanity has put all these figures to flight. We do not need to cling to “a horrible Hell, that a Hottentot wouldn’t believe in” (Gogarty’s limerick on Joyce).
    “And it seems to me that the concept of tragedy is inseparable from the idea of ‘something irrevocable’. If it could be reversed it would not be tragedy would it?” That is why the young Newman argued that tragedy is a genre incompatible with Christianity. The Bible is all about the reversal of tragedy. Paul writes: “All Israel will be saved” and “God will be all in all (in everyone)”. “O death, where is thy victory? o grave, where is thy sting?”
    Let’s not forget that “God wills all people to be saved” and “if God is for us, who can be against us?”

  51. Kevin Walters says:

    Many years ago, before I knew what the early Greeks did know (Sibyl)
    Speck of light, in darkest night
    Opening eye orange sky
    A universe in a grain of sand but opened on whose command?
    Wide waste land of orange clay, continual day
    No shrub, tree or hill, total still
    Horizon racing to the eye, empty land and sky
    Then black speck so far away drawn back for display
    A woman dressed in shabby black seen from the back
    Walking with purpose to nowhere, further into the orange glare
    Now her frame fills the eye wide as the widest sky
    Turning a dried out corpse every part intact
    Groaning, “why have you brought me back”?
    Indolence holding back despair, nowhere to go but on ward into the orange glow
    In desolation she did stand a soul contained within her own land
    Whom she spoke to I do not know, but me she did not see
    In sadness I left her orange sky with the closing of the eye
    Knowing that she would never die
    In Christ

  52. Eileen Coyne says:

    I was going to put a note on the website about “An Historical Approximation” and it sadly doesn’t surprise me that the author is being moved against. Sums it all up really, doesn’t it!

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