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Monday, 23 June 2008

Odd counsel for Westminster priests

Westminster Diocese is awash with rumblings about a talk given last Wednesday at the All Saints Pastoral Centre, London Colney to over 200 priests by Fr Jerome Murphy-O'Connor (the Cardinal's cousin) on "Paul the Pastor". It does not sound good.

The talk was not given from a prepared script nor was it recorded and therefore I can only go by what I am told by those who were there. Here are some key points that I have summarised from the accounts of many priests. If anyone wishes to offer corrections of serious errors of fact, I will be happy to amend the post.

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St Paul didn't believe in the divinity of Christ - he didn't deny it but his thought hadn't taken him that far. For Paul, Jesus was the model man - he showed us what we are capable of, by the example of his life. [Cp. the Office of Readings for today in the Liturgia Horarum: St Gregory of Nyssa "On Christian Perfection", beginning "More than anyone, St Paul understood who Christ is..."]

There is no evidence at all that the papal primacy existed for the first 120 years of the Church's history. The monarchical Church was a later invention.

Paul would not have fallen into the Anglican error of ordaining women priests because he was a pragmatist. St Paul was concerned not to scandalise others and therefore it was wrong for the Anglican Church to alienate the Global South by ordaining women to the priesthood - although that would be "a good thing in itself."

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There was quite a bit more but I think that gives you the flavour of the day. It is a great pity that over 200 priests were gathered together and this is what they were given. The Church is alive and the Church is young. There are so many inspiring topics that priests would love to hear about. For example:
  • Marriage - why young Catholics are rediscovering the teaching of Humanae Vitae now that the contraceptive mentality has been thoroughly discredited, and the priest's task to preach the Gospel of Life.
  • Liturgy - Pope Benedict's drive to enrich the Liturgy by recovering tradition and the call to recover the sacred in our worship.
  • Prayer - the example of the ecclesial movements in asceticism and prayer, and the challenge to priests to offer sound guidance and good example.
(I am sure that readers could suggest many other suitable topics.)

The Westminster Cathedral newsletter for 14/15 June announced that the same "accomplished and engaging speaker" would also be speaking to the laity at Westminster Cathedral with official endorsement.
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