24 May 2009

The double edged sword

It has been a wonderful week in which we have installed our new Archbishop of Westminster, and in the course lost our own Ordinary. We thank God for the loving care of Bishop Kenney and beseech the Lord to look kindly upon this humble particular Church and send us a shepherd after his own heart.

There is another paradox taking place and that is all the column inches which +Vincent is attracting in the media. It is a great thing, surely, that he is in all the papers. I only wish they would be a little gentler; or so I thought. I am changing my opinion, not least from this piece in the Guardian earlier in the week, by Cole Morton.

I find it hard to be lectured on sex by a celibate, but then I'm not a Catholic. Isn't it just possible that everything he does is based on self-deception? That there was no God nagging him on the terraces and his calling was just the fretting of a teenage boy overwhelmed by hormones and powerful priests? Not even this agitates the archbishop. He leans closer. "Then it is a very remarkable pattern in life, repeated millions of times over, that people give themselves to following a call in God, and live fulfilled and happy lives. Are you saying it's all a myth?"

I might be, I say. Nichols smiles again, the game show smile, as if indulging a child. "I don't think so."

Perfect response. Is it me, or does this bishop's faith just shine out? Even in the face of adversity and this self evident virulent atheism, +Vincent just smiles and tells the truth. To paraphrase something off Oprah, with a hip swivelling action ...

Go +Vinnie, Go +Vinnie.


  1. "I find it hard to be lectured on sex by a celibate"

    I'd find it hard to be lectured on celibacy by an atheist! Reporters,who do they think they are eh? Just bloggers with a wage.

  2. As long as 'Vinnie' gets rid of sex abuse from his sex education program!

  3. Greetings, Paul,

    Extreme vanity brought me here in an idle moment, Googling even wrongly spelt versions of my name (the Guardian's fault, not yours), but I'm glad it did.

    Interesting that you should describe that question as "self-evident virulent atheism" and that "shadowlands" should also be so ready to identify me as an atheist. Will you be so presumptuous with the people you seek to serve in the church? We have not, to the best of my knowledge, ever met, and yet both of you presume to know the shape of my soul.

    You are both very wrong, as it happens, but then one thing reporters do have, aside from an alleged wage (I'm now a freelance, so wrong again on that score) is a habit, where possible, of talking to the people they write about, or at least trying to check facts. If you include the scrutiny of commissioning editors, sub-editors, reader's editors, proof readers and overall editors, each of whom sees a piece and raises questions about it before it is published, the process is a little more rigorous than blogging.

    That's by the by. I wouldn't have bothered with this comment, except to express the hope that as a priest you will be a little less judgmental about the souls of strangers.

    I am, of course, glossing over the fact that you appear to equate not being a Catholic with being an atheist.

    The question, as to whether the belief system upon which we have built our lives could actually be a self-delusion, is one that believers of every and any kind surely have to face, and it seemed to me to be all the more pertinent for someone of such high rank in the Church.

    But anyway, Paul and shadowlands, may God be with you.

  4. Thank you, Cole, for your thought provoking words and gentle admonition. I pray, God, that I may never judge another person’s soul nor presume to know them well enough.

    Your question was, I felt, driven from an atheistic slant and is, sadly, very much a sign of the times. It is right to doubt from time to time and from our doubts God comes to us all the more strongly and passionately to draw us to him. If you like he uses our weakness to make us stronger. We then might ask ourselves from where this weakness comes and I suspect it is, sometimes, driven by atheism.

    I do not equate not being a Catholic with being an atheist. I do, however, think it the responsibility of every baptised person to encourage the faith of others and this includes challenging the challenges.

    Your point on reporters compared to bloggers is well made but then surely the blogger merely speaks their mind, expresses an opinion and means no more than this. I think it reasonable that national newspapers have exacting editorial standards, and that these would be higher than a blog.

    Cole, as I said, thanks for your article in the Guardian. My reading of it was that Archbishop Vincent was clearly not a high ranking representative of a self delusional belief system. On the contrary, he is a man with the truth to share and worth listening to. He is a man of deep faith.

  5. On that latter point, Paul, I think we can agree.



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