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April 16, 2013

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  1. Jane permalink

    I remember Tom Pavey. A gentle holy man who always welcomed sinners back to the Church in his humble accepting way – without a word , when I always arrived late, distraught and unable to love .His quiet and knowing manner when he handed me a bulletin I will never forget- the reason I felt hope in the face of my incapacities – like a sheepdog for the Shepherd.

    • Thank you Jane for lovely comment. We can look forward to a happy reunion with Tom in Heaven…he’ll be at the door giving out the bulletin! God bless.

  2. Francis permalink

    Dear Father John,
    May GOD the almighty shower you with strength and courage to continue with the noble mission of bringing hope and light to the ones who lost hope as its my strong belief that by visiting the families of the TZ inmates in Hongkong, has arisen their hopes and shed them more light on the welfare of their beloved ones languishing in the corridors of justice in the foreign land when their main aim was to try improve the lives of their families from dire social and economic hardships by sacrificing themselves to these drug warlords out to solicit more wealth taking advantage of their social vulnerability. I was so moved by your radio interview on the clouds power breakfast today of the psychological sufferings the inmates undergo however well they may be treated there, but still home is home. Wish you had got time to have such interviews at prime times in the local radio and TV stations in TZ so that the message may reach a wider network and if possible conduct summons in the city selected churches for the young youths to get the message. And thanks for your courage to have mentioned one TZ drug-lord flourishing in china and afraid to come back to TZ, as opposed to our Govt. and state organs who are very hesitant to mention these people now that you have clearly pointed out that these people are well known to them, but the choruses we hear everyday is that we will expose them which has never happened instead we just hear the vulnerable names being caught, but not the master minders, You may mean well for the inmates but believe me my words the inmates may prefer languishing in HKG jails than in TZ jails, the treat there so much better than in TZ cell/justice corridors, the vulnerable here only lives by the grace and mercy of GOD. There may be good people who mean well like comm. Nzowa as you’ve pointed out, but their hand are tied and mouths shut as they are appointees under authority as opposed to peoples’ elected leaders.

    GOD bless you, GOD bless TZ, GOD bless Africa and the world and may you continue the good work of bringing hope to the hopeless that even if it didn’t materialize but at least a voice is been heard.


    • Thank you Francis for your encouraging message, which I’ll put on v2catholic menu of Jan 18.
      If you are in Dar, please let me know. Maybe we can meet up before I leave Tz. God bless you!
      John W (

  3. TASMAD permalink

    I think putting v2catholic onto FB may be a good thing. People who ‘like’ the page can get regular ‘status’ updates, which otherwise they may never be exposed to

  4. Stephen K permalink

    Re photos of Rev Morrison’s tomb in Macau
    I remember visiting Macau over 20 years ago. I remember the church which features in one of the photos. There was also a little chapel on the top of a hill – was it the Guia fortress hill? – not the fort or hill next to the facade of St Paul’s, but at the other end of town. The chapel was, from memory, just the size of a little room with a picture of Our Lady in it. What was its name, I wonder?

  5. TASMAD permalink

    Interesting reading through the “Liturgical abuses” – and I particularly like Fr John’s humourous reference to it as “” – certainly brought me a smile!

    As I’m typing away in Australia, it seems both major political parties are keen on an inhumane policy towards asylum seekers. Prayers please…

  6. Karl H Cameron-Jackson permalink

    re-“Two elephants in the room”


    You have completly disregarded same sex FEMALE SEXUALITY
    as though homosexuality is Male ONLY

  7. Stephen K permalink

    Re rotating popes
    Whilst it may not eliminate political “jockeying”, I think fixed terms for Popes and regional rotation have a lot of merit. This is well worth considering and discussing. So much of what is argued is “Catholic” is nothing of the sort, merely “Western”.

  8. Hazel Cooper permalink

    Seeing Pope Francis welcoming a young Down’s syndrome youth to experience the popemobile reminded me of Alec Guinness’s interpretation of Monsignor Quixote (circa 1985). The humanity, caring, the mirroring of Jesus’ love of EVERYONE comes shining through, giving us hope and showing us how to love each other with the love of our Blessed Lord and to carry that love with us to everyone we meet and in everything we do. If we were all such mirrors of Jesus’ love, the whole world would come to know and love him in no time at all. Let’s all try!

  9. Stephen K permalink

    I’m afraid I don’t like the new formats of CN, ES etc. Not that I have been going to them recently or regularly. The simpler the better. I think the grey type of CN is a mistake; black on white is easier on the eye, I think: imagine trying to read a whole book in grey! I also think it’s important to see at first glance what is new. Perhaps I read online articles like I would a newspaper. But these are my immediate reactions.

  10. Thank you Simon, Michael, Darlene, Reader and Stephen for recent comments.
    God bless you all!

  11. Simon permalink

    about elephants in the room – the gay lobby is not willing to discuss anal sex, just like the gun lobby is not willing to discuss registration of powerful weapons, and like the church until recently was not willing to discuss sex abuse. I cannot understand how the gay lobby can readily dismiss the opinion of doctors concerning anal sex. If the doctors are right and surely they are then legalising male same sex marriage is legalising an activity which is medically dangerous.

  12. Michael permalink

    Re: Elephants in the room
    There are important issues being raised here. As to the health aspect of a/s, one of the thorny challenges is society’s approach to the balance between the promotion and regulation of healthy practices and the protest against regulation and proscription of individual decision-making: the old security vs freedom tension. There are lots of inconsistencies. One often hears complaints about having to pay taxes, but then often the same complainers complain about the parlous state of schools, roads and hospitals etc! So people want benefits without having to pay for them. Medical studies show smoking increases the risks of cancer but governments don’t make tobacco illegal; they give warnings but prefer to impose sales tax. (They do make smoking illegal in certain places however). There are probably many examples where people want different approaches or outcomes. “Freedom” is not an homogenous thing!

    So, where a/s is concerned, how could a society act responsibly or fairly? Could it, for example, allow s/s marriage but prohibit a/s? It seems problematic. How could it do that, practically speaking, even if people were willing in principle to countenance such bedroom intrusiveness? And though it might be true that a/s is a common homosexual practice, it would not follow that all homosexual couples do so, or that it is not practised by some heterosexual couples as well. In other words, s/s marriage in itself is a separate thing from a/s. Is an argument against s/s marriage dependent on or identical with an argument against a/s? It doesn’t seem to be. Perhaps one reason why a/s is not talked about is because we haven’t yet worked out an easily coherent secular approach to how you discourage or prevent unhealthy choices without making society a blunt, oppressive instrument. Would it be possible to have anti-a/s campaigns, like the current anti-tobacco campaigns, directed at everyone?

    The s/s marriage concept has arisen out of the context of modern applications of social democracy, which are often underpinned by a concept of equality as a principal good. It is forcing societies to reconsider ideas or forms that may be sound or reasonable but which have been taken for granted. Some homosexuals may seek a form of partnership that only if recognised as marriage can both indicate and nurture their personal commitment to each other: this need may be identical to what many heterosexual couples have. The sticking point seems to be whether the form is truly identical on various other elements and should be called the same. Can it never be countenanced to say of a homosexual couple who had lived together faithfully for fifty years that they are ‘married’? If elderly women and men can be said to marry even if they do not have children or try to have them, what is it that makes their marriage real? And what of a ‘common-law’ marriage between a man and a woman who have and raise children? Is marriage synonymous with the commitment the people make, or is it something larger or more complex than the simple element of commitment?

    I think the issue of a/s is an important issue and do not think it is good to quarantine subjects from discussion, which is why I think some comment on this article is appropriate and should be encouraged. To the extent it is unhealthy and not what bodies are designed for, I don’t think society should be fostering it. It seems to be a ‘no-brainer’. I am less sure however that a/s is the critical answer to the issue of s/s marriage, which I think needs much more analysis and reflection than the pace of legislative reform seems to be allowing.

    On the issue of gay genes, and alterability of orientation, I think a distinction may need to be made between solving the question of how it arises and how to deal with it as it exists. The old nature-nurture dichotomy sounds straightforward but studies like the one linked appear to my layperson’s understanding to underscore how early back nurture can begin so that nature and nurture could almost be said to merge, and for all practical purposes, in some cases at least, they are one and the same. I don’t think I have any basis for doubting that some people can be helped to re-orient sexually as some can be helped to overcome drug addictions. But the question may be whether society should regard homosexuality as ‘aberrant’, and if so, how to do so without marginalising or oppressing individuals within its care?

    I don’t know the answer to this. As the years go by, the maxims of prudence, sobriety and moderation and modesty all make more and more sense, but no-one and no society seems to have come up with the perfect way of leading all horses to water, or, once they are there, of making them drink without drowning them. But we will not resolve the problem if these questions, including the origin of homosexuality, are not openly and freely discussed without prejudice.

  13. Thank you for the explanation of Gnosticism….it’s hard to keep these various “isms” clear….Really, what is ironical to me, is that, 99.9 % of the people religious and secular have no clue how the spiritual realm really impacts the physical realm. No there is no separation between the two….until you draw your last breath, and you had better hope that you have stored up “treasure” for heaven! The physical realm will have nothing for you at that point. It’s all spiritual from then on.

    • A Reader permalink

      Darlene, that’s a huge call to assert that 99,9% of ‘people religious and secular have no clue how the spiritual realm really impacts the physical realm.’ Have you any evidence to back this and what exactly do you mean by this anyway?

  14. Michael permalink

    Pelagianism and Restorationism

    Pelagianism is a theological view about what underpins the process of salvation. It is, at heart, an attempt to make sense of the question of how does human free will work with an all-powerful and all-knowing God? Pelagius disagreed with Augustine’s insistence that a person could not do anything good spiritually except under the influence and power of God’s grace (i.e. power). He thought rather that God would not be so capricious as to require us to do and be something we could not do without extraordinary intervention, therefore, we must be able to do good. Both positions have their risks in the wrong hands: Augustinianism can lead to a narrow predestinationism where only some can be saved because they are chosen to be; Pelagianism can lead to an inversion of the God-Human relationship and redemptive economy.

    I think this is one of those cases where mystery defies science. When it comes to religious beliefs like those about sin and grace we may be in the realm of what we think the relationship between free will and salvation ought to be rather than what we can see under a microscope. Psychologically we often have the sense that we make decisions off our own bat, but we’ve also come to realise that this is not always a reliable sense, since we can be affected by our physical and mental condition in a way that our true independence of will can be impaired.

    Catholic restorationism is all about re-establishing a state of affairs that could be summed up as a state of ecclesiastical obedience and wide observance of the traditional forms of religious piety. The Pope’s example was a gift of 3,525 rosaries. It seems it was the trouble taken to count the number of rosaries that struck him. What is significant about the number? What is significant about counting them, or making a point about them, or even, perhaps, saying more than one? The question is, is this Pelagian, and if so, how? Perhaps Pope Francis was thinking that counting one’s rosaries was evidence of disengagement with the very object of the prayer, and only engagement with the process. Or, that perhaps it was reflective of too great a sense of “accomplishment”.

    Saying a rosary 3,525 times does not itself reflect a Pelagian belief, otherwise we would suspect and reject every repetition of prayer or good works. But thinking 3,525 rosaries is better than 1 begins to take a person closer to the idea that grace works quantitatively (and eventually qualitatively) in direct ratio to human quantity. That could be considered a consequence of Pelagianism. To the extent that restorationism argues that one form of approved sacrament is spiritually better than another approved form, one could think it also vulnerable to a Pelagian charge along the same lines. But then any evaluative comparing of religious practice from any direction may be similar.

    The other consideration is most people don’t operate at the level of these subtleties. Dedicatedly attending daily Masses or saying rosaries or prayers is probably usually simply a reflection of a belief that doing these things is good. This is the same logic that applies to people devoting their efforts to works of mercy and fraternity. I suspect if we are all scratched deep enough, there is probably a Pelagian (or a semi-Pelagian) in all of us.

    I honestly think both Augustinianism and Pelagianism mix and mingle in religious people’s psyches and practice, and not just along Catholic-Protestant or right-left ideological lines.

  15. Stephen K permalink

    What can I say but a wistful or aspirational ‘amen’? I first heard the term “conditional love” in the 1970s in some lectures by Fr John Powell SJ. His explanation of this and the nature of God’s “unconditional love” in contrast to our own has always stuck in my mind. The gap – my gap – is glaring. It lies at the heart of what I think is the religious problem of Christianity – namely, that this is what Jesus is calling us all to realise and practise and invoke grace for but throughout history, and today, and probably for however long Christianity survives, we fail on the whole to do all three. Yes, I know the theological answer is ‘only grace can effect this’ but the mystery of grace and freedom is just that: a mystery that doesn’t quite get us – me – ‘off the hook’. A good post, Father

  16. Stephen K permalink

    Re Corpus Christi collect/prayer
    Yes, I think this is a good example where the new translation is poor, and poorly thought out.

  17. Stephen K permalink

    Re: Pentecost and the Holy Spirit.
    The various emphases in references to God and Mary possibly reflects the theological centrality of Jesus, the Incarnation. I think that art has played a part in this. How to depict the Holy Spirit? A dove? A flame? This is probably the problem: we respond anthropomorphically – a dove or flame does not grip our empathy.

    That said, I am sure that there was always lots of emphasis on the Spirit by those in contemplative life or on the mystical path. In many ways, the Spirit is the better word to describe the “action” of God, rather than a “person”. I think that perhaps the language of “person” in speaking of the trinity is in some ways unhelpful. There is but one God – it is as much as our imaginations can do to picture one person, let alone juggle the one God – three persons conundrum. I believe a better way to speak of God is to do so in terms of action: God-creating/sustaining (i.e. Father); God-suffering/revealed (i.e. Son) and God loving/inspiring (i.e. Spirit).

    Trinitarian theology is difficult and traditional trinitarian language cannot but help come across as polytheistic. The consequence is that belief and prayer amongst all of us on this score is mixed, schizophrenic (for want of a better word), self-contradictory and eccentric, when it is not merely simplistic.

    Speaking personally, I avoid genderising God. God may be understood as Father, but God equally might be understood as Mother, or both-at-once. And although orthodox trinitarian theology would prohibit the Spirit being understood as a daughter, to balance out the Son – it is understandable that the term “proceeds from the Father” might encourage some to adopt such a relationship.

    It may not ultimatey be a problem though: our human nature and limitation prevents us thinking of and picturing more than one concept or image at any one time, so perhaps there is something intuitively natural and fitting about it all.


  18. Stephen K permalink

    Re: David Timbs’ article on the Gary Wills book

    A very clarifying article, thank you. I will take the time to read Mr Wills’ book fully, but for me, the concept or tradition of sacrifice and ordained priesthood for the Eucharist is not the problem: it was the characterisation of the priest as ontologically different (i.e. superior) that led to a lot of problems and neurosis in the church. I think a far healthier approach is to see ordination as commissioning, not as metamorphosis. It seems, from what you are saying, David, that this in fact was very much how it all started. At any rate, it would make more sense of the relationship of baptismal priesthood – as a sacrificial mode of life, and a general ministry of all the baptised.

  19. Stephen K permalink

    Re: Which James is Which?

    Very good links. The wikipedia gives a concise summary of the issue and history (and confusion)! Tradition is a weighty thing, but it is itself shackled heavily by the desire to emphasise certain things rather than another: Jesus the only child stems from an insistence that Mary was an ever-virgin which stems from an insistence that Jesus was the son of God not Joseph. Thus one thing was thought to necessitate another.

    In actual fact, since God is mystery, and the idea of Incarnation certainly is too, it is not necessary that anything, any process be just so for faith.
    Even using the same thread of logic that I have described here, Jesus’ divine Sonship is in no way undermined – mechanically – by Mary having more children.

    I think there has been a lot of wishful thinking involved here: Mary’s act of faith is in no way impugned by her having conjugal relations with her Jewish husband(s) and bearing children; Jesus’ salvific existence is in no way qualified by having brothers and sisters.

    The way James is described (i.e. James the brother of the Lord), that is, James the just, as being the leader in Jerusalem, it makes most sense to me that his position followed on from his being Jesus’ brother. Family was important. Otherwise, he just comes out of nowhere, and if anything James maes jesus more comprehensible.

  20. TASMAD permalink

    Common touch indeed!

  21. Stephen K permalink

    Re: The news article “We need women deacons”

    I am dismayed though perhaps not surprised by the vehemence of the rush to condemn the German Archbishop’s call for the ordination of women deacons. There seems to be the usual protests on “technical” grounds, and the usual attribution of the decline of religious observance in both the RC and Anglican churches to the introduction of female altar servers and women priests respectively. What planet are these commentators inhabiting, I find myself asking. The Christian churches are suffering a credibility gap in many areas – due to changing ideas about what consititutes moral behaviour, reality and the nature of faith, God and the mechanics of the universe, the need for transparency and organisational and civic accountability, democracy, and so on. The rank hypocrisy and deceit of high church officials over the sexual abuse issue has represented a major wound on the visible churches. Though there may be an intelligible argument to say that people need some aspects of a renewed emphasis on the numinous in public prayer and the liturgy, whether ordained priests or deacons are men or women is likely not to have the slightest impact on this. Holiness of life, and pastorality will. And is anyone seriously going to argue that only men can reflect this?

  22. Stephen K permalink

    Re: Imitating Pope Francis’ common touch

    I approve of the general thrust of this article, but am conscious of an anomaly: that in seeking to have the common touch we are doing something ‘artificial’. Or, doing something notionally good artificially. Is conscious action necessarily ‘artificial’ action in the sense I am trying to grasp here? I would not say so, but consciousness and self-awareness can often interfere with the process – prayer is an example where an act is susceptible to a kind of intentional corruption. Perhaps I am trying to say that it is not the common touch that we should be striving for but deep insight into our common humanity and soulness; for if we arrive there, then the empathy, the collegiality, the solidarity with all people can follow. I am reminded of the way of the Tao, finding-through-not-seeking. Jesus said to not let our right hand know what the left hand is doing (Matt.6:3). He said this in a particular context, but this evokes, for me, at any rate just now, ideas of spontaneity, unself-consciousness, unqualified action. If the common touch is merely charm, a way or technique with people, it may be no more than a performance or be corrupted by condescension. Perhaps I am having a problem with the word ‘touch’, implying lightness, superficiality. Perhaps we should be striving for the ‘common spirit’.

  23. Re “Pope Francis – Thank you Holy Spirit”

    (Mar 14, 2013) Hazel said:
    May the Lord continue to be with our new Pope – what a wonderful choice of name. St Francis was asked to “rebuild my church” and said, “Preach the Gospel constantly, use words if necessary!” May Pope Francis be the leader we need, may he find ways to restore the integrity of the Church, and may he become THE word figure whose pleas for peace and love reach round the whole world – and make a difference. God Bless and help him in his gargantuan task. We mustn’t stop praying either – he needs our prayers too.

    (Mar 14, 2013) Anita said:
    Thanks God answer our prayers, really the more you said prayer, the more you talk with God, the more you love God finally God takes away your worries and answer your prayers. We love this good news for the new Pope cares for the poor and lives simply…a person of peace, of simplicity, someone who cares about justice and the environment. Thanks our Lord, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Blessed Virgin Mother Mary. God bless Pope Francis I.

  24. Stephen K permalink

    I agree too. I think economic justice is a Christian imperative. My understanding is that buying Fair Trade products here helps producers and workers have a better wage and dignified conditions.

  25. TASMAD permalink

    Agree and agree!

  26. Hazel Cooper permalink

    Dear John, I hope you will forward your comments to the Vatican. Pope Francis seems to be a listening Pope and I would think appreciate a well thought out addition to his G8 group. May God Bless you in all you do.

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