Monday, November 17, 2008

English Bishop Blames Educated Pawns For Losing Numbers Game

The Rt Rev Patrick O'Donoghue, the Bishop of Lancaster, has claimed that graduates are spreading scepticism and sowing dissent.

Instead of following the Church's teaching they are "hedonistic", "selfish" and "egocentric", he said. (Not to mention, inquisitive, discerning, spiritual rather than religious, and equipped with operating bullshit detectors.)

In particular, the bishop complained that influential Catholics in politics and the media were undermining the Church.

While not naming names, he suggested that such people had been compromised by their education, which he said had a "dark side, due to original sin". (And the Church doesn't?)

Bishop O'Donoghue, who has recently published a report on how to renew Catholicism in Britain, argued that mass education has led to "sickness in the Church and wider society".

"What we have witnessed in Western societies since the end of the Second World War is the development of mass education on a scale unprecedented in human history - resulting in economic growth, scientific and technological advances, and the cultural and social enrichment of billions of people's lives," he said.

"However, every human endeavor has a dark side, due to original sin and concupiscence. In the case of education, we can see its distortion through the widespread dissemination of radical scepticism, positivism, utilitarianism and relativism.

"Taken together, these intellectual trends have resulted in a fragmented society that marginalizes God, with many people mistakenly thinking they can live happy and productive lives without him. (Don't you really mean without the Church?)

"It shouldn't surprise us that the shadows cast by the distortion of education, and corresponding societal changes, have also touched members of the Church.

As Pope Benedict XVI puts it, even in the Church we find hedonism, selfishness and egocentric behavior." (And also sexual abuse and it's cover up. Egocentric behavior is a very generous description for pedophilia. Wait a minute..... he's not describing the clerical caste. My bad.)

The bishop said that Catholic graduates had rejected the reforms made in the second council of the Vatican, which introduced fundamental changes in issues such as liturgy and doctrine.
"The Second Vatican Council tends to be misinterpreted most by Catholics who have had a university education -- that is, by those most exposed to the intellectual and moral spirit of the age," he said. (It's not that John Paul II rolled back the reforms like subsidiarity and collegiality, it's really those damn intellectuals.)

"These well-educated Catholics have gone on to occupy influential positions in education, the media, politics, and even the Church, where they have been able to spread their so-called loyal dissent, causing confusion and discord in the whole church." (Just a tad bit of projection going on here.)

The bishop said that influential Catholics had set a bad example and corrupted the faith of those who had not gone to university. (My Six Pack Joe buddies would say that the clerical abuse scandal had far more to do with their disgust, not to mention that little thing about birth control. They don't even listen to me. They just buy me another glass of box merlot to shut me up. It's effective, if not terribly palatable.)

"This failure of leadership has exacerbated the even-greater problem of the mass departure from the Church of the working-class and poor," he said. "For example, the relentless diatribe in the popular media against Christianity has undermined the confidence of the ordinary faithful in the Church." (Not to beat a dead horse, but the media hasn't attacked Christianity. They have exposed the excesses of clericalism.)

Although the influx of immigrants from Catholic countries in Eastern Europe has buoyed Mass attendance in recent years, there has been a significant decline in the number of indigenous, working-class Catholics.

Bishop O'Donoghue has produced a report, Fit for Mission? Church, examining the current problems facing the Church and designed "to enable Catholic men, women and children to resist the pressures to compromise, even abandon, the truths of the Catholic faith". (I bet it has a chapter devoted to the spiritual benefits of illiteracy.)

He says that he supports Catholics receiving a university education, but urges they should be "better-equipped to challenge the erroneous thinking of their contemporaries". (He probably means an approved Opus Dei or Legionnaire university, where they have a Catechism department rather than a theology department.)

Nicholas Lash, the former Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University, called the bishop's comments "extremely grave".

Writing in this week's Tablet - a respected Catholic journal - Prof Lash says: "If he had named a particular university or universities, or particular individuals, he might well have had a series of libel actions on his hands. (Ya think?)

"Quite what constructive purpose could possibly be served by such irresponsible and wholesale scapegoating of the educated, I have simply no idea." (Sarah Palin does.)


Oh for the good ole days of hordes of illiterate laity. It's the Church's own fault what with all those great parochial schools and all those Catholic colleges and universities. I should know, I'm one of the products of their educational system, and I wouldn't change it for anything. In fact, all that Catholic education has me wondering what the good bishop is really up to with this anti intellectual diatribe.

I can't help but wonder if Bishop O'Donoghue is taking a page from the Republicans and inciting a new class war based on intelligence and education. Is this a sign that they think they may have lost the Culture Wars and are now shoring up their authority by attempting to marginalize a new class of humanity?

How far does he really think he's going to get with this? My buddies may buy into this to some extent, but not when they need their tax accountant, or medical services. They don't actually hate the intelligence of the doctor who does their by pass operations. They may not like a doctor's impatient attitude, but they really like his medical education when it benefits them. I guess this would be an example of utilitarianism.

All joking aside, this is incomprehensible to me unless of course, it is mindless projection of the worst sort. If you can't deal with a particular group, I guess you blame them for your own inadequacies. There's sure been a lot of blame being assigned by Catholic bishops. That's not the sign of a healthy self assured group. Maybe all our clerics should undergo that psychological testing being mandated for seminarians. Lots of other corporations do it.

It sure seems to me that testing the mental fitness of our bishops makes as much sense as testing the mental fitness of our seminarians. In fact, testing of this sort looks way over due.


  1. This is the same thing we saw in the McCain campaign, desperate men who realized they had lost already, desperate men turning to hate instead of love to try to grasp what wasnt theirs to have.
    Insuring they will lose even more.

    We need to remember also that the Catholic Church in England is the minority church, a tolerated stepchild. Actually, the Catholic Church in England is on the receiving end of the same type of rhetoric that non-catholic churches receive in Italy and other catholic countries.

    Desperate men, trying to justify their beliefs in the face of mountains of evidence that those beliefs are "faulty".

  2. Carl, I don't know that it's hate, I think it's more hurt and fear. I keep thinking about the Church they were raised in, which is why I probably posted that photo of the nuns on the playground from the fifties. Those churches were full and they were vibrant and they were important pillars of social life.

    Nothing is the same any more. Catholicism is dying. It's tempting to blame this on society and secularism and overeducated but under evangelized lay Catholics. The fact is, it probably has more to do with social mobility than anything else.

    It's not just the social bonds of the parish that have been effected by social mobility, it's all social pillars like the extended family and the neighborhood. Neither my daughter nor myself live any where near either my family or her father's family. Parishes are no longer cohesive groups of life long families, they are more like temporary shelters for strays.

    What I think the hierarchy needs to start doing is building in personal spiritual allegiances and that they are not doing, especially with the very groups of people who experienced the same birth church they did. You can't go back, but they don't seem to want to go forward either, or they don't know how to go forward. In the meantime the Church dies.

  3. Where is this report (full text)?
    PhD. - at the haert of Roman Catholic Poland