Monday, October 24, 2011

Throwing imitation pearl before real swine.

I've found myself seriously tied down to some tough awkward writing in the last few weeks. It seems that I've become default flavour of the month- well not so much favoured flavour but an easy person to default to when all else fails. I really don't mind this at all - it gives me quite a wide range of experiences and I know that my small pool of anecdotal wit soon evaporates if the audience becomes too familiar. Anyhow I'm in Ireland for a music conference but my mind will be well and truly distracted by a forthcoming 'key note' address that I have inherited. This is a talk to a group of 'Catholic' Educational Professionals. (As you'll see I was not to sure where to place the parentheses at the end of the last sentence- each words seriously needs qualifying, probably a health and safety warning or some disclaimer to protect it from advertising fraud legislation.)

Anyhow in a weeks time I will find myself standing in front of a crowd of 'Catholic Educational Professionals' who, in their brief to me, have described themselves at 10% Catholic 20% other Christian and 70% Agnostic or Atheist. Do I need to repeat the phrase 'Catholic Professional Christians' again or have you got my drift? Well having got over statistical shock I decided there just might be an opportunity for evangelism here and like St Paul I better start with looking for some common ground. Some sort of altar to the unknown God that I could claim as my own and somehow get a leg in to the rarified alternative reality that is professional agnosticism. 'Aha', says I when I found the mission statement of these 'Catholic Professional Christians' tucked away towards the end of the brief. Alas not a word in it says anything really Christian, professional or Catholic.

I really do wonder what purpose it serves some institutions to maintain even the facade of a pretence of Catholicism. It would be the Devil's work if it was purely to hold on to the trust funds. The same trust funds given by devout Catholics that pay for their generous salaries and fund their extended holidays. But back to the 'Mission Statement'. It does talk about Christian Values and lists them~ unfortunately only the ones that could be drawn from any other world philosophy. Nothing to offend here! Perhaps that's where I should start!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A silent backlash?

Could I beg your prayers for some of my clergy friends at the moment. The world of the cleric is not without a degree of 'tit for tat' going on. One in particular is being targeted by his superiors who are trying to effectively silence what has been faithful and quite effective preaching over some years. The superiors have got tired of the complaints letters and seem to be resorting to all sorts of tactics to get him out of the way. Another has complained about the actions of his superiors and is facing an onslaught from ecclesiastics higher up the food chain on the grounds of disobedience and lack of community spirit. A third is just so weary of the constant need to justify perfectly orthodox opinions that he's beginning to question his own judgement. In all three cases these men are being isolated by what seems to be a silent backlash which knows that it can't openly dispute the current good things that are being promoted but do know that they have the means to at least limit the amount of priests that will actively promote them.

One could hope that this is the beginning of an 'end game' when those who outwardly appear quite sound are very scared of what's going on in the younger eschelons of the clergy and want to maintain the status quo of a rather grey and dreary compromise with the world. You get hints on the surface of this battle when you read the letters to the editor in some publications. Unfortunately the more damaging tactics are being played out at a deeper level by those who have publically sworn to defend the faith. The saddest thing is that many of them actually believe that they are defending the faith. Generally they think in terms of there only having been one Vatican Council and that earlier councils are just too imbued with the cultural baggage of their own times to be any use today.

None of the fellows I mentioned above are 'high fliers' by the way. They don't undertake big preaching tours or oversee international ministries. No criticism is implied here. But these unknown 'little' men are just quiet 'plodders' getting on with the day to day business of being a priest. They are vulnerable, few will know that they are in difficulties, and they face a very uncertain future palmed off as 'unsuitable' by the use of under hand tactics.

Orate fratres!