Pick and Mix

Is Catholicism becoming a "pick and mix" religion? And is this only to be expected?

I have lots of Catholic friends who have hugely varying commitments to the Church. They say things like:

"I'm Catholic but I don't believe in going to Mass every Sunday, we go at Christmas."

"I'm all with the Church when it comes to issues of abortion and euthanasia, but I'm on the pill and I think contraception is OK."

"I love attending Mass and I'm Catholic through and through, but I think the Church needs to update it's thinking in the area of gay marriage."

"I'm Catholic and I receive communion every week but I don't really agree with the teachings about divorce. I'm divorced and remarried and it hasn't damaged my relationship with God."

Is it OK to belong to a church but not agree with everything it teaches? Or should those people just go and find another church to belong to?

There is also growing discontent in some circles with our Holy Father and his teachings. Is that OK, or should those people also be looking for a different church? If the Pope is our head and you can't agree with what he is saying, teaching and changing, then is it time to find a church whose leader you do believe in? The catechism tells us:

882 The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter's successor, "is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful. For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered."

883 "The college or body of bishops has no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peter's successor, as its head." As such, this college has "supreme and full authority over the universal Church; but this power cannot be exercised without the agreement of the Roman Pontiff."

Our Pope, like him or not, agree with him or not, has been appointed by a group of holy men, under the watchful gaze of the Holy Spiit and by "reason of his office as Vicar of Christ… has full, supreme and universal power." He is the leader of our Church, he is our shepherd and regardless of whether he says things we agree with or not, he is in charge and we are asked, as members of the Catholic Church, to obey and respect him. If we don't, we are as guilty of making this a "pick and mix" religion as all of the people listed above.

I kind of see it a little bit like your workplace. I remember being in a job in Auckland when we got a new principal I didn't get on with. She was changing the direction of the school and I didn't agree with the changes. I was not on board with her vision. So, I found another job. If you are in profound disagreement with core beliefs or the leader's vision, then you are in disagreement with the Church itself.

And as for those priests and bishops who are constantly bagging Pope Francis, the catechism makes it clear that they have no authority, so perhaps we shouldn't even be reading or listening to the things they say. They are in direct disobediance to the Church and its teachings. That sounds dangerous to me.

I know lots of you feel that some of Pope Francis' teachings are directly against Church Tradition, and therefore equally dangerous, but as Catholics we are asked to submit to him in his "full, supeme and universal power". Peter was the rock on which Jesus founded his holy Church, our Church and Francis is his successor. 

Looking forward to reading the comments!

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    Comments: 76

    1. Teresina January 7, 2015 at 1:31 pm

      Mundabor has the lowdown on Bishop Dew.  I wonder where he got this information from: [Part of this comment has been removed for failing to adhere to Being Frank commenting standards]

    2. Teresina January 7, 2015 at 1:43 pm

      I agree, M&M, that it is surprising that those who don't believe in the Church's teachings still remain with the Church.  That also goes for Pope Francis and I sinderely wonder if he will stil be with the Church come the synod of the Family.  Being Pope he is bound to uphold the teachings of the Church and if he does not then it is his problem not ours and he will be the one that may wel head a new church that is of the world.  Will you follow him then?

    3. Teresina January 7, 2015 at 2:06 pm

      Your penultimate paragraph is incorrect M&M as explained here:


      Adrian VI : “  I consider that, if one equates the Church of Rome with her Head, that is with the Pope, it is correct to say that she can err, even in matters touching the Faith, by giving encouragement to heresy, in issuing certain decrees, for example. Several Roman Pontiffs have in fact been guilty of heresy…  ” (Quaest. in IV Sent. ; quoted in Viollet, Papal Infallibility and the Syllabus).

      The Testament of Gregory XI, dated 1374, is both moving and instructive. For in it he recognises in effect that he may have committed “  errors against the Catholic Faith or adopted opinions at variance with the Catholic Faith  ” in his teaching given “  in public or in private  ” ; and he now abjures and detests any such thing of which he may have been guilty. John XXII, upon his deathbed, solemnly recanted every opinion, every teaching, contrary to the Catholic Faith, alluding to his heretical sermon given on the Feast of All Saints in 1331, “  submitting all that he may have said or written on the subject to the judgement of the Church and of his successors : determinationi Ecclesiae ac successorum nostrorum  ”.

      Such instances do not leave any room for doubt but that it is possible for a Pope to be guilty of heresy, except in his Solemn Magisterium which, alone, is intrinsically infallible.

      Those who still retain doubts on the matter should consider the following : We are often told that the Vatican Council had proclaimed the Pope to be infallible, and that, therefore, we must always listen to him and obey him on pain of damnation. But it is not quite so simple. The Council Fathers, having re-affirmed what the Church had always taught, that it was necessary for salvation to be in union with the Bishop of Rome and that he who rejected his authority could not hope to be saved, went on to reason that therefore the Pope could not err or lead his flock astray, for in that case the faithful might, on certain occasions, find themselves in the position of having to follow him into his error. As no one is ever bound to an evil act, this would be an absurdity.

      At this point the Council had to define also the limits of Infallibility, and lay down the precise conditions which must be satisfied for a pronouncement to be ex cathedra. Clearly they were aware that obedience to the Pope – only relatively infallible – could not under all circumstances be identified with obedience to God, who alone is the Source of all Truth and Holiness. Not only was the Infallibility of the Pope defined at the Vatican Council, but also the limits and extent of this Infallibility. To put it another way, the Council laid down also the fact that outside these limits the Pope remained capable of erring and was not entitled to command blind obedience."

      I have linked below a very good article which deals with how a Pope might become a heretic or a schismatic (and some past Popes have indeed fallen into herasy, which would mean anyone who followed them would also fall into heresy so we must be careful).

      What you have stated reminds me of what an Opus Dei priest said that we must tolerate things – even when they are wrong – for the sake of unity.  That priest was manifestly in error when he made that statement.  As Catholics we are never obliged to accept or follow something that is wrong and evil and the end never justifies the means.  That is contrary to the Catholic Church's teaching.  I have heard other Catholics state that they have been told by some priests that they must blindly follow the Pope.  If anyone checks into the Church's teachings particularly on papal infallibility they will find that is wrong and the Pope is capable of error but once if a Pope becomes a heretic by reason of failing to uphold the Catholic Church's teaching then he puts himself outside the Church and is no longer Pope.   


    4. Teresina January 7, 2015 at 3:43 pm

      Also, M&M, I haven't heard any priests or bishops bagging Pope Francis at all.  They have been bagging Cardinal Kasper, although Cardinal Pell in fact has pointed out that we have had 37 black popes – so where does that put the argument that we must blindly follow a pope?

      "Over 2,000 years these theological foundations have been developed and changed. The Second Vatican Council (1962-65) set out to complete the work of the First Vatican Council (1870), by recognizing that as Peter was one of the twelve apostles, so the Pope is assisted by the other bishops throughout the world, forming the College of Bishops.

      This college and all synods work by consensus and teachings and pastoral practice can only be changed by consensus.

      Pope Francis is the 266th Pope and history has seen 37 false or anti-Popes. From the eighth to the nineteenth century the Popes ruled most of central Italy, an area known as the Papal States. For the last 150 years, plus or minus, the Church has been led by Popes, who were better, wiser, holier and more learned, than the historical papal average for the two millennia.

      … Today we have one of the more unusual popes in history, enjoying almost unprecedented popularity. He is doing a marvelous job backing the financial reforms."


    5. MrTipsNZ January 7, 2015 at 8:47 pm

      And as for those priests and bishops who are constantly bagging Pope Francis, the catechism makes it clear that they have no authority, so perhaps we shouldn't even be reading or listening to the things they say. They are in direct disobediance to the Church and its teachings. That sounds dangerous to me.

      I think you should read CCC 883 again. 

      This kind of confusion sowing effort does BeingFrank or the Church no good at all.

      Chris Pemberton


    6. Jerome January 7, 2015 at 8:59 pm

        Pope Francis shows how contradictoriness can have a simultaneous existence and yet be true. justifying criticism of the Pope, submitting to its value Francis, contacted two critics: transposing the issue into a new theme re the possible good criticism bears.this should be underlined  and stressed with everything now falling into footnote status to the fact Pope, in other words Francis, himself does not share mms point. this acceptance of criticism by the pope is the point this discussion turns from a collision course of power factions to a vulnerability in his' thanks' which marks him as precious–in what way could he touch our existences without sharing our frailities?However,there are ways  ways opposites, of course, are not like tweasers of two contradictory arguments to hold a truth and what we must view with a jaundiced eye is– when a tradition and eternal magisterium containing the views of many Pope's contradict this onePope– a moral/ ethical code or character of one's loyalty to the Church is then not measurable by the extent one is willing to accept the fleeting fashion of the passing power of the moment, as replacement for Eternal truth.This would be a failed submission to the contradictoriness of two positions into an overall truth

    7. Jerome January 7, 2015 at 9:09 pm

      sorry for overloading sentences and lack of clarity in writing–the Pope accepts criticism and has thanked critics for it.

    8. Rubyshine January 7, 2015 at 9:47 pm

      Hi M&M,

      I'm going to comment on your examples separately because I think there are different issues at play.

      1) "I'm Catholic but I don't believe in going to Mass every Sunday, we go at Christmas." I would say this person is a nominal or cultural Catholic. I'm going to assume they don't have a huge amount of faith because to me part of having faith is wanting to go to Mass, to pray, to learn, to reflect. It seems, "I don't believe in going to Mass" is code for I don't WANT to go to Mass.

      But they do go to Mass once a year, and that surely is a good thing. They have that tie to the church, and maybe one day that foot inside the door will lead them to something more. 

      2) "I'm all with the Church when it comes to issues of abortion and euthanasia, but I'm on the pill and I think contraception is OK."

      "I'm Catholic and I receive communion every week but I don't really agree with the teachings about divorce. I'm divorced and remarried and it hasn't damaged my relationship with God."

      These two statements come off as sounding quite arrogant. To me there's a difference between a person saying, "I don't understand the church's teaching. It feels wrong to me, but I really want to understand and am exploring this, and a person saying nah the church is wrong and I'm just gonna do what I want. I wonder why these people don't seek another church.


      3) "I love attending Mass and I'm Catholic through and through, but I think the Church needs to update it's thinking in the area of gay marriage."

      This also sounds like a person who doesn't understand the church's teaching (or the idea of God's law and papal infallibility) but pershaps isn't personally affected by it so just kind of shrugs their shoulders. I can understand they this person stays with the church although perhaps they are being hypocrites?

      4) Disgreeing with the Pope.

      There's a difference between someone saying, "I don't agree with what the Pope is saying/doing. I'm concerned that his actions could damage the Church." and someone buring effigies of the Pope or making nasty snide comments.

      I believe that we are called to be suitaby respectful of the Pope, but that doesn't have to mean we have to agree with every little thing he says.

      As far as I can see the Pope has upheld all Church teachings. My understanding of Papal infallibility is that it only applies to formal church teaching/documents (someone can correct me if I'm wrong) that he doesn't get a pass to say and do anything at anytime and have all the Catholics around the world nod and say, "ah yes of course this is correct."

      So if the Pope goes against church teaching then surely it is him who is outside of the church. If however the Pope upholds church teaching, and someone has an issue with how he has dealt with something then obviously a person needs to decide if it's a big enough issue for them to leave the church over, or if they're just going to whinge about it.

      Having said all of that I have gone back and forth over various issues. I have seriously asked myself the question if, "If I am Christian, then why am I Catholic?" What it came down to was the Mass is the most important part of the equation, and that other issues are less important. Also some of the issues are very modern (Abortion, euthanasia, contraception, gay marriage, IVF) I know methods of abortion,contraception and euthanasia have always been around, but the modern science that makes these things readily available and legally protected are very new in comparison to the church.

      So I choose to view the Church's point of view with an open mind and heart and keep picking away at my understanding.

      However, I do feel somewhat of a hypocrite. None of these issues, as yet, affect me personally. I am not gay or divorced. I did not require IVF to get pregnant. In the past I have made full use of contraceptive choices and am now at a point where I want more children but am of an age where I am certain not to end up with 10 children. I have never been in a position where I wanted to consider an abortion.

      So it's easy(ier) for me to say, "oh yes I understand these rules, these rules are fine." 



    9. MarkO January 7, 2015 at 10:22 pm

      Hi M&M

      God The Father is Our Father – and no other.  (I don't worship false gods – and that includes false popes – and we've had more than our share of them over the ages). And our Mother Mary is our REAL spiritual Mother.

      Academics (educated idiots) who disagree can go and take a hike.

      God Bless, Mark.

    10. MarkO January 7, 2015 at 11:47 pm

      God keeps all created things in existence "De Fide"

      The Vatican Council (Vatican I) teaches: "God, by His Providence, protects all that He has created. That is, He preserves it from relapsing into nothingness.  If His Providence did not preserve all things with the same power with which they were created in the beginning they would fall back into nothingness immediately".

      Anyone who understands the fundamental formula E=mc2 would realise immediately how much serious power is involved every micro second of every day.

      Alas, most don't want to know.  They'd rather consider themselves as little gods – answerable to no one – to be totally independant, living in some kind of false little bubble. In any case, to share that sort of power in a practicle way would simply mean that they would destroy themselves even quicker than before.

      Only prayer can make the difference….


    11. Teresina January 8, 2015 at 1:01 am

      Well said Jerome and Marko and to add to the discussion:

      "In July 2005 Pope Benedict XVI stated during an impromptu address to priests in Aosta that: "The Pope is not an oracle; he is infallible in very rare situations, as we know."[16] His predecessor Pope John XXIII once remarked: "I am only infallible if I speak infallibly but I shall never do that, so I am not infallible."[17] A doctrine proposed by a pope as his own opinion, not solemnly proclaimed as a doctrine of the Church, may be rejected as false, even if it is on a matter of faith and morals, and even more any view he expresses on other matters. A well-known example of a personal opinion on a matter of faith and morals that was taught by a pope but rejected by the Church is the view that Pope John XXII expressed on when the dead can reach the beatific vision.[18] The limitation on the pope's infallibility "on other matters" is frequently illustrated by Cardinal James Gibbons's recounting how the pope mistakenly called him Jibbons.[19][20][21][22][23]"


    12. rosario January 8, 2015 at 8:32 am

      Is Catholicism becoming a "pick and mix" religion? Catholicism HAS become a "pick and mix" religion – ever since Vatican 2, to my mind. We have a watered down version of how things used to be: the Mass, veneration and sacredness in Church, preaching by priests on the essentials of our faith, etc.

      For those of us who question the present state of Church affairs we are considered "over the top", or so one of my friends keeps telling me each time I dare to question particular aspects. But that won't ever put me off as I'll continue to argue, and pray, that things will surely get better in our Church.

    13. bamac January 8, 2015 at 11:13 am

      This has only just reached my in-box … I haven't the time to read it right now but it looks hard hitting … God Bless Cardinal Burke.

      Mrs Mac


    14. Teresina January 8, 2015 at 1:46 pm

      Mrs Mac, that is excellent.  Cardinal Burke sums up the feminist takeover of the Church and the subsequent stoppage of men attending Mass and the sacraments.  God bless him as you say.

      Rosario, you are not alone in what you are finding.  The majority in the Church in New Zealand are quite happy with how things are, so you won't get much change from them.  However, I must say that since the Synod one or two people I know who were happy with the status quo are now starting to raise their eyebrows and ask questions about what is going on.

      Marko, I agree with what you say.  Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich says that, despite the difficulties, Our Lady will spread her mantle across the Church and thngs will eventually  be restored but the priests and the laity will have to suffer for a time.

      But as regards the view that is being spread around in some quarters that we should tolerate things – even when they are wrong – for the sake of unity.  That view, as I have mentioned before, is contrary to Church teaching.  I heard  in catechism classes years ago that the Church teaches that the ends can never justify the means.  The Church's teaching has not changed on that.

      I have started reading "Remaining in the Truth of Christ – Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church" an answer to Cardinal Kasper.  I recommend that every Catholic should get this book.  It is simply laid out and even I – with no theological training – can understand it clearly. 

      It is under the auspices of St John Paul II The Great's Familiaris Consortio and quotes:

      "Because it is the task of the apostolic ministry to ensure that the Church remains in the truth of Christ and to lead her ever more deeply into that truth, the Pastors must promote the sense of the faith in all the faithful, examine and authoritatively judge the genuineness of its expressions, and educate the faithful in an ever more mature evangelical discernment."

      The arguments against what the Orthodox do with regard to the divorced and civilly remarried (mentioned by Benedicta before the Synod) is rejected and the reasons given.  Also, it points out that the Church can never decide moral teaching through polls of the laity.  The Magisterium of the Church, not the laity, is solely responsible for the Church's moral teaching. 

      On page199 of Remaining in the Truth of Christ it states:

       "Theories that exclude the object itself as the primary and necessary source of moral judgment are contrary to Catholic moral teaching [and Veritatitis Splendor is referred to].  Indeed, there are acts whose object is intrinsicallly evil and can never be justified.  Consequently, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church (no. 1761) teaches, 'there are certain specific kinds of behaviour that are always wrong to choose, because choosing them involves a disorder of the will, that is, a moral evil' And St Thomas observes that, 'it often happens that man acts with a good intention, but without spiritual gain, because he lacks a good will. Let us say that someone robs in order to feed the poor: in ths case, even though the intentionis good, the uprightness of the will is lacking.  Consequently, no evil done with a good intention can be exclused: 'There are those who say: And why not do evil that good may come? Their condemnation is just' (Rom 3:8)" (no. 78)"

      … Catholic teaching speaks of an intrinsic evil that can never be justified. 'One must therefore reject the thesis, characteristic of telelogical and proportionalist theories, which holds that it is imossible to qualify as morally evil according to its species-its 'object'-the deliberate choice of certain kinds of behaviour or specific acts, apart from a consideration of the intention for which the choice is made or the totality of the foreseeable consequences of that act for all persons concerned.'  

      Reading that it is obvious that those (such as Opus Dei's Martin Rhonheimer) who say that certain acts are morally okay (such as condoms, masturbation, craniotomy) because the end in itself is good (eg the wife of an aids sufferer avoiding, sperm for invitro fertilisation and preserving the life of the mother when the child is going to die anyway) are in serious error, and so is the argument that we must tolerate things that are wrong for the sake of unity.  Cardinal Kasper's proposal that divorced and civilly remarried should be permitted to receive communion out [a false sense of] mercy falls under that too.  ['There are those who say: And why not do evil that good may come? Their condemnation is just' (Rom 3:8)"]

      So beware that this argument of toleration of things that are wrong is against Church teaching and following it will lead into error.


    15. Rubyshine January 8, 2015 at 10:31 pm

      I actually thought the churches position on contraception when used for medical purposes other than to prevent pregnancy was actually ok. eg. the pill being used to regulate periods etc. Does condom use when one partner is sick with AIDs fall into that category, or would the church advise a married couple simply not have intercourse?

      I also thought the church accepted abortion when the life of the mother was at grave risk. 

      I thought the church taught against IVF, so I don't see why masturbation to aid IVF would be ok.

      Or do I have all of that mixed up?

    16. Teresina January 9, 2015 at 1:10 am

      Hi Rubyshine, no, condom use doesn't fall into that category and, yes, the Church calls for abstinence in the case of one partner being affected with HIV:  

      "The Church argues that not only is the use of condoms irreconcilable with Catholic values, but that they are also scientifically ineffective. Anti-condom leaders within the Church have cited various studies showing that condoms are not 100% effective at preventing infection,(20) and pointed out that many sexually active individuals fail to ensure regular use of condoms.(21) The main protest, however, appears to be their claim that condom distribution endorses promiscuity: “The use of condoms does not only give false security and fake freedom to the youth, but the use of contraceptives to expose the youth to many immoral and social dangers such as loss of self-control, vulnerability to guilt and irresponsible sex.”(22)"; 

      Yes, the Church does teach against IVF but I have read a clarification that Martin Rhonheimer says that masturbation is okay for semen to be tested for fertility tests but his view is disputed by many Catholic theologians.  

      If the mother's life is in danger the Church teaches that the doctor must try to save the life of both the mother and the baby and cannot choose one over the other but Martin Rhonheimer is advocating a change in the Church's teaching to advocate craniotomy.

      This paper sets out some of his arguments for and the arguments against him:


    17. Teresina January 9, 2015 at 1:34 am

      Rubyshine, in the document I linked above there are some conclusions of the Catholic ethicists who have addressed Rhonheimer's approach to some Catholic moral issues.  

      Marie A. Anderson, Robert L. Fastiggi, David E. Hargroder, Rev. Joseph C. Howard Jr., and C. Ward Kischer:

      “Martin Rhonheimer’s Defense of Craniotomy, Salpingostomy, and the Use of Methotrexate; Rev. Martin Rhonheimer’s defense of the use of salpingostomy and methotrexate in resolving ectopic pregnancies is based on his version of virtue ethics. His book Vital Conflicts in Medical Ethics A Virtue Approach to Craniotomy and Tubal Pregnancies which appeared in English in 2009, is a detailed, subtle, and sophisticated study, but a number of Catholic ethicists have described the central thesis as “fatally flawed” and “lacking a certain moderate realism about killing and the way people normally intend.”

      William E. May:

      My criticism  wasand still is that Rhonheimer’s position is not that of Pope Pius XII, who explicitly condemned as masturbation the act of freely choosing to stimulate one’s genitals to provide semen for fertility analysis. I accept Pius XII’s position, not Rhonheimer’s.

      In this concluding evaluation of Rhonheimer’s work on disputed issues in medical ethics I have given my reasons for thinking that his virtue-based approach to solving those issues, in particular “vital conflicts,” is not adequate and is rather rooted in a misreading of relevant magisterial documents.«(May 2010, 347) 


      I believe my differences with Rhonheimer involve what constitutes the object of the moral act, what the "end" of the act is, what practical reason is, and how "nature" impacts the evaluation of an action. My critique of the method of moral analysis of Germain Grisez, John Finnis, William May, and Joseph Boyle (Appendix 4 in my Humanae Vitae: A Generation Later [Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1991]: 340-70) may shed light on some of thedisagreements that I have with Rhonheimer. Rhonheimer has his own disagreements with Grisez's method but shares tosome significant extent its understanding of practical reason.

      Steven J. Jensen:

      Martin Rhonheimer’s The Perspective of Morality: Philosophical Foundations of Thomistic Virtue Ethics offers a bold summary of Thomistic virtue ethics, laid upon some not-so-Thomistic foundations, culminating in questionable, perhapseven dangerous, conclusions concerning actions evil in themselves.«(Jensen 2012, 135)".

      To me it is a concern that such a man is teaching in the Opus Dei Seminary with such views because his views will be taught to priests of Opus Dei; also the Marists are now sending their seminarians for formation to the Opus Dei Seminary – therefore, it is quite likely that they will also be influenced by this man who is one of those pushing for changes to Catholic moral ethics.

    18. rosario January 9, 2015 at 10:18 am

      Regarding the above….."If you are in profound disagreement with core beliefs or the leader's vision, then you are in disagreement with the Church itself." I understand that Communion in the hand came about through the Pope reluctantly granting permission for the practice through an indult to certain disobedient bishops, rather than him bringing those bishops back into line. As we all know the ramifications of that indult, it doesn't say much for one aspect of the Pope's vision at the time.

      I assume, of course, that as the Pope was not defining any doctrine he was not in an infallible state when granting that indult.

    19. Teresina January 9, 2015 at 1:09 pm

      Rosario, yes, Communion in the hand is an indult that can be rescinded at any time.  It is a matter of Church law that doesn't come under infallibility.  The norm for receiving Communion is receiving on the tongue.

      As Jerome refers to above, Francis himself has welcomed criticism of himself and has said it is healthy.

      But interestingly, those defending Francis and saying there shouldn't be any criticism of him, I don't remember any of them coming out and defendingn Pope Benedict when he was under constant attack by the press and by the liberals in the Church.

      Those defending Francis and, therefore, Kasper to my mind (because Kasper has said that the Pope is in accord with him) appear to be doing nothing to fight against this determined bid to tear down the Church's dogmatic teaching on marriage.

      The Latin Mass Chairman has an interesting article on the divergence between conservatives and why nei-cons have taken the tack of supporting anything that comes out of the Vatican whether it is right or wrong:

      "In the aftermath of Vatican II, opponents of the radical deconstruction of the Church (what Pope Paul VI, soon to be 'Blessed', called its 'autodemolition'), had to decide on a strategy. Since this was not going to be a purely negative strategy of attacking something from all and any side, like the radical liberal strategy, it was going to require serious thought and difficult judgments.

      … The people we call 'neo-conservatives' decided to accept the reformed liturgy, give the best interpretation possible to everything coming out of Rome, and to rally round those aspects of doctrine which were being most vigorously upheld in the Papal Magisterium, which were issues of sexual morality and abortion. Pope Paul VI issued Humanae Vitae condemning contraception; St John Paul II turned out to have even more to say on this, and on abortion as well; Pope Benedict XVI also had a very clear track-record on these issues.

      By refusing to defend the ancient liturgy, and soft-pedaling issues like Church-state relations, religious liberty, and the mission to the Jews, the neo-cons could present themselves as totally in accord with the Second Vatican Council, and what we might call the 'official line' coming from Rome afterwards. This gave them cover against liberal accusations of 'refusing to accept Vatican II' (whatever that means), and made it possible for them to get the public support of Popes and the more conservative bishops and cardinals. They had enough to do, of course, in defending the Church's teaching on sexuality and abortion, which go to the heart of the private lives of the Faithful, and they have done much magnificent work, both practically and theoretically, in these areas.

      Traditional Catholics took a very different path. They adopted the cause of the ancient liturgy as a rallying-point for a defence of a much wider set of Catholic teachings, and, beyond that, the traditional culture, spirituality, and practice of the Church, in opposition to the never-ending series of novelties which appeared, often with some more or less official endorsement.

      The advantages of the neo-con approach are perfectly easy to see. The Trads were, as Pope Benedict expressed it, treated 'like lepers', and were unable to use the resources of the Church for their work. They were a sitting duck for accusations of 'rejecting the Council' (whatever that means). The broadness of what they wanted to defend gave their opponents a bigger target to attack.

      But the trads were right. The destruction of the Church's ancient liturgy, for all that it was apparently signed off by Pope Paul (only later was it established that he never abrogated it), was motivated, as far as its designers were concerned, by a rejection of key areas of the Church's teaching (something today evident from their memoirs), and had the result that those teachings were no longer conveyed to the Faithful. To embrace the reformed liturgy because it was merely silent about, or almost silent about, as opposed to openly contradicting, the intercession of the saints, the need for penance, the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, the complimentary of the sexes in marriage, our radical need for grace, Purgatory, the reality of the devil, and the sacrificial nature of the Mass, is to make far too great a concession.

      A sizable party of catholic liturgists seems to have practically arrived at the conclusion that Luther, rather than Trent, was substantially right in the sixteenth century debate; one can detect much the same position in the post conciliar discussions on the Priesthood. … It is only against this background of the effective denial of the authority of Trent, that the bitterness of the struggle against allowing the celebration of Mass according to the 1962 Missal, after the liturgical reform, can be understood. The possibility of so celebrating constitutes the strongest, and thus (for them) the most intolerable contradiction of the opinion of those who believe that the faith in the Eucharist formulated by Trent has lost its value. “


      Communion in the hand, lay readers, Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, Eucharistic processions are all contrary to what was taught at Trent and have led to a breakdown in the Faith overall. 

      We have neo-cons like Rhonheimer attempting to tear down the fabric of the Church and Her moral teachings by effectively promoting the use of condoms, masturbation and abortion under some circumstances.  They are every bit a danger to the Church – in fact perhaps more so – because a number of Catholics think they are orthodox and go to them for confession and spiritual guidance and are being taught a form of a tolerant bland Catholicism without any of the spiritualness that is part of the rich tradition of the Church.


    20. Teresina January 9, 2015 at 1:18 pm

      Another writer warns that conservatism is liberalism in slow motion:

      "conservatism, to the surprise of many, proves itself to be a slower, less self-conscious form of liberalism. Liberalism takes as its principle that change is inherently good, and thus, that faster change is even better?as long as the change is in any direction away from tradition. Conservatism has as its principle that it is better to hold on to what one has than to give it up without a fight, but it does not recognize that due to the prevailing liberalism, more and more of the good is being surrendered, undermined, and habitually ignored with each passing day, such that it will become more and more difficult to preserve it. Conservatism is liberalism in slow motion: what is preserved is preserved by force of will, not by the firmness of an unassailable principle. As the truth fades away and people grow accustomed to its loss, the conservative has no ground to stand on; he wrings his hands while he watches beautiful things get dismantled and sent away. In contrast, adherence to Tradition goes beyond mere conservation of the good at hand, for it demands the love and honorable defense of an inheritance that is received in its integrity and must not be squandered. And if part of this inheritance has been lost, the traditionalist knows it must be restored with unstinting effort and in the face of all opposition."


    21. MarkO January 10, 2015 at 12:20 am

      Life is often tough for us who keep the True Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ – but every now and again He gives a sign that He is truly with us. This afternoon, I held in my arms the most beautiful baby I've ever seen in all my years..gurgling and smiling she was at me, with a thick head of auburn hair and sparkling brown eyes. Her Mum and Dad so proud.

      I made this a little while ago – fitting it seems for the moment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPvObYbLjZo

    22. Teresina January 10, 2015 at 2:37 pm

      More of the Pick and Mix:

      "New Doctrine for New Times – Opus Dei Priest: "Defense of Life of the Unborn Relative Truth, and Not from the Gospel." 

      Spain has, since the Socialist government approved it in 2010, the most radical abortion law in Europe, one of the few in the world to actually qualify the medical killing of unborn human beings as an almost unlimited "woman's right". After the "conservative" party elected on a platform to change the law and save some unborn lives backed off from it last week, many Catholics have questioned a commitment to "conservative" parties whose only commitment in turn seems to be to economic measures hardly in full accordance with Catholic Social Doctrine and that were only supported for their promises in favor of life.

      Not so, says an influential Spanish Opus Dei priest and blogger, the right to life of innocent human beings is a "relative truth." We blame those popes, including John Paul II and Benedict XVI, obsessed with abortion. They gave absolute and full support to the cause of unborn life, and, after times changed, Catholics dedicated to the defense of unborn life did not realize absolute truths became relative, doctrine had become elastic, the Church's commitment had withered, non-negotiable principles had become negotiable, and they were left hanging…

      The stunning original article is here: the main references in it are to Cardinal Kasper's book on "Mercy" and to Francis' Evangelii Gaudium; and, for good measure, there is an image of an ISIS fighter: because Catholics who ask politicians who used to defend life but remain in an abortionist government to be coherent and speak up are obviously just as "fundamentalist" as Islamist decapitators and rapists.


      Who would guess that one day an Opus Dei priest would be indistinguishable from a liberal Jesuit? The Times They Are a-Changin'


      In honor of the changing times, we reassess below a fundamental (sorry, important, we mean) passage of Evangelium Vitae:"


      Read the whole stunning article here:


    23. bamac January 10, 2015 at 5:54 pm

      Have just found this while surfing ….I have only seen early stages of the video … domesticity calls … will watch the rest when I can do so uninterrupted …. it is very thought provoking and sad when we are reminded of just how much we have had taken from us .



        God Bless, Mrs Mac

    24. rosario January 11, 2015 at 1:44 pm

      It's not always being against what the Church teaches, but being against some of the practices that have crept in over the last nearly 50 years that annoy me. I am Cambridge based, but I try to avoid going to Mass at Saint Peters because I don't like two things about the church:

      1) The Blessed Sacrament has been shoved to nearly out of sight when you enter the church and I notice many people just don't acknowledge His presence when entering the church, either through a genuflect or a bow. There are suitable places in the church to accommodate His presence without attention being moved away from the Altar, as decreed by Vatican 2.

      2) Seats only are available in the church with the rows set very close together, making it nigh impossible in most cases to kneel at appropriate times during the Mass. The chairs are deliberately situated like that, I feel sure, to discourage kneeling. And like in some other churches I have attended, the people stand at the Consecration – which supports my conclusion about the chair rows being deliberately set up that way. ( I recall an incident some years ago when a priest had just taken up the task of Cambridge resident priest, At the Consecration he said: "Let us kneel." A later compaint to the Bishop by some of the locals was enough for Father to ask to leave the Parish).

      The Saint Peters set up has prompted me to go to Saint Patricks at Te Awamutu on occasions, if I choose not to go to any of the Hamilton churches. I have just noticed, though, that the church doesn't seem to have any altar servers and there are no bells at the Consecration. Ordinary-dressed men and women (usually women) prepare the altar for Mass and prior to Consecration. Surely there should be consistency in Church practices at these times?

       I have noticed in more than one church lately that music is played during the Offertory time when the congregation would normally be responding. The only thing the priest seems to be saying on occasions after he silently makes the Bread and Wine Offering is: "Pray that my sacrifice and yours….."

      What happened to the quiet time before and during Communion? I cannot prepare myself for Communion properly or give thanks afterwards because of all the music being played. It's as if silence is a crime. I know all churches do that – at least in New Zealand. Was this one of the dictates of Vatican 2, can someone tell me?



    25. bamac January 11, 2015 at 1:55 pm


         The link I gave above I feel, explains how and why these changes came about …. it is rather long, I admit but it gives the hows and whys we have what we have now in most churches


      God Bless,

      Mrs Mac

    26. Teresina January 11, 2015 at 4:58 pm

      Mrs Mac, thank you for that link.  I watched it all the way through and what we have lost is obvious.  However, thankfully, I think we are seeing a reverse osmosis in the Church.  That video was recorded before the changes to the Mass and what we have lost over 50 years we are slowly regaining since Summorum Pontificum.  I attended a traditional Mass in Tokoroa a couple of weeks ago.  An older lady, one of the parishioners, came up to me afterwards.  She said, "That Mass took me back to what Mass used to be like and I liked it but I still prefer the new Mass because we are p-a-r-t-i-c-i-p-a-t-i-n-g.  I didn't ask her what she was doing at the Latin Mass if she wasn't participating, because it's no use arguing against what people have had instilled into them for many years.  Instead I said to her well it's good if people can have a choice to go to whichever Mass they feel they participate  better in (which for me is the Traditional Mass).  She said "What do young people think of the Mass?"  So I told her that overseas experience is that the young people like the Latin Mass because for them it is the new Mass.  I suppose she asked because the vast majority at the Latin Mass that day were young people.  Deo gratias to the parish priest for allowing the Mass to be said in the parish church.  What I think is awful is that most parishes, despite Summorum Pontificum, will not allow the Traditional Mass to be said in the parish church.  With this type of attitude it is not surprising that the SSPX continues to grow.  The bishops of New Zealand should insist that the Mass be offered in at least one or two parishes in their diocese.

      Rosario, it will be interesting to see if there are changes for the better under the new bishop of Hamilton. I am sure there will be.  He comes from the Diocese of Christchurch that has seen good holy bishops such as Bishop Meeking, Bishop Cunneen and Bishop Jones.  Christchurch Diocese has always been loyal to Rome and so some of that orthodoxy much have rubbed off on our new bishop.

      Also we have some very good holy young priests in the Hamilton diocese, and so things can only get better as the older priests and older congregations make way for the younger generation who don't have the hang-ups of the "spirit of Vatican II" hippy guitar generation that is still clinging on like grim death.

      Can we all pray for priests because I heard recently that they very much need prayer and are under constant attack from the devil.  Every Mass we go to, every rosary and prayer we say we need to include the protection of our priests in our intentions.  Without the priests we would have no Mass.

    27. beyblade January 11, 2015 at 8:24 pm

      Hi everyone – go and check out Fr.Z's posting ( Jan 10) and subsequent comments on Cardinal Dew. 

    28. Teresina January 11, 2015 at 8:44 pm

      Thanks, Beyblade – even worse than I thought and an excellent article.  Here is the link to the original article.  It certainly seems as if New Zealand is far more liberal than the States:  http://www.thecatholicthing.org/2015/01/10/higher-standard-possible/

    29. Rubyshine January 11, 2015 at 10:42 pm

      I was wondering about how much freedom churches/parishes are given to pick and choose the nature of their church in terms of layout etc.

      I read an article a while ago about what an altar "should" include traditionally in terms of layour and appearance. Whilst many churches I've been into follow most of these ideas, I was at a church, in a different diocese, last weekend that had me baffled.

      The church had been rearranged from it's original/traditional layout (I believe it was built in the 70s) so that the altar was in the centre of the church. Pews were arranged on 3 sides of it. The crucifix still hung in what would have been the original sanctuary. I had sat so that I was facing the altar and therefore had my back to the altar. 

      During mass I realised I couldn't see the crucifix, any statues of Jesus or saints, or the stations of the cross or the tabernacle (I located it after a while behind me in what I assume was the old sacristy to the side of the old sanctuary in).

      I could see the altar and the priest and the lectern. Past the altar I could see through the glass wall/doors into the foyer where children were running aboud, and past them I could see through the glass wall/doors out to the street. I also got to watch anyone who arrived late try and sneak in, which was impossible. Beyond the priest, there was nothing identifably Catholic that I could see during Mass.

      After Mass I discovered that the stations of the cross, and the statues of Jesus and Mary were perfectly visible when you viewed them from what would have been the original position of the seating.

      I have been in other church's that have been rearranged, but the rearrangement has made sense and still maintained the "integrity" of what would expect in a Catholic church. I'm thinking of St Paul's in Ngaruawahia which rearranged the church so that the musicians could sit to the side of the congregation. But I couldnt' see the purpose of this change in terms of any practical improvement.

      Then during the Mass, there was no kneeling. The congregation stood during the consecration except for a handful of us who knelt. There weren't kneelers but the carpet was comfortable enough.

      I guess I'm wondering what happens when a new priest who is more orthodox comes along. Obviously changes like the congregation kneeling are easy, but renovating a church can be costly. So who gets to make these decisions, and why do they make them? Do the priests get to pick and choose what the churches look like? The parish committee? Someone else?


    30. Rubyshine January 11, 2015 at 11:00 pm

      I had sat so that I was facing the altar and therefore had my back to the altar. Apologies. This should read, "…had my back to the crucifix." 

      Wish we had an edit function.

    31. Dominican January 12, 2015 at 7:11 am

      Melville still has the tabernacle in the right place. Melville still has kneelers and uses them.  Music? That is a work in progress but they do now sing the psalm and gospel greeting of the day.   A major achievement.  The baptism font is back and it would be great to restore the confessional . That too a work in progress! God bless that priest!

    32. rosario January 12, 2015 at 9:02 am

      Thank you for that link, bamac. I too watched all of the video, which was very enlightening. I don't feel so alone with my concerns now about the direction our Church is heading as others, including forum members, have similar concerns.

      Rubyshine' remarks have reminded me about Sacred Heart Church in Hastings, my home town. The old church was such a beautiful building before it was burned to the ground via arson attack. The re-built church is completely different in that when you first walk in you feel you are in a Protestant church. No Blessed Sacrament because it has been moved to a separate room, I discovered later after talking to one of the parishioners after a Sunday Mass. You need to have a good look around the church to determine the actual denomination, I feel.

      Saint Mary's in Napier also has the tabernacle in a separate room. After attending Mass there on a few occasions, I deliberately stayed behind after Mass to see how many people visited the Blessed Sacrament. Sad to say that on at least three occasions only one person visited Him.

      Not everyone genuflects, by the way, at those churches where the tabernacle is not present.

      Talking about the Blessed Sacrament reminds me when I mentioned at a Renew Group meeting that the Blessed Sacrament is the greatest treasure in the Catholic Church. A friend who is more knowledgeable in Church matters responded by saying that the altar is the greatest treasure in the Church. I wonder about that because to my mind without Jesus himself there would be no altar.


    33. rosario January 12, 2015 at 9:28 am

      Dominican, I haven't been to Melville for a couple of years now but from your remarks the Church setup seems to be associated with the young priest, Father Boyce, who also offers the Latin Mass at the Convent Chapel I see.

      I wasn't too impressed with Father Boyce when he first started out in the Waikato, but from the praises he has been given by forum members, it looks like I should be attending some of his Masses and sermons to see what he has to say.

      I must give a plugin here for a real warrior priest, Father Anselm of Saint Columba's, for a parish is only as good as the priest leading it. Here we have a good, old Irish priest at the helm.

      Most people at his Mass kneel at the appropriate times; the Sunday music group is superb – leaving the Cathedral's boring repertoire for dead. I'm sure too that of all the times Communion is distributed he only uses Extraordinary Ministers for distributing the Blood of Christ.

    34. Hotch 257 January 12, 2015 at 10:21 am

      This is my first comment on this blog so happy New Year to all other commenters. I have just returned from Hearts Aflame 2015 – a 10-day immersion in all things Catholic. A magnificent time.  A personal highlight was the celebration of the Extraordinary Form Mass and the memorable contributions of two Dominican priests from Australia.

      Re the layout of some Churches these days. It is very noticable in some churches how close together the pews or seats are. Often when we kneel after receiving communion and the person in front is sitting it is very awkward.

      We are in the position of building a new church in our parish in the Christchurch Diocese. We are fortunate to have a Bishop with wonderful taste in Churches. We will have to ensure the space between pews is sufficient.  

    35. bamac January 12, 2015 at 10:53 am

      Welcome Hotch 257,

      Am glad that you got so much from your experience with Hearts Aflame ….I have heard so many positive reports from past participants  … the Traditional Latin Mass ! … the more you take part in it the more richness the Holy Spirit opens up for you if you sincerely ask Him, so I used to find …. it is still top on my bucket list to be able to participate in at leadt one more.

      Am glad that the link was helpful for you Rosario, how often God provides the right thing at the right time …


      God Bless,

      Mrs Mac

    36. rosario January 12, 2015 at 6:13 pm

      Teresina, ……"it will be interesting to see if there are changes for the better under the new bishop of Hamilton."  I've just been looking at the interior of some of the Christchurch Catholic churches and I haven't found a single church displaying the Blessed Sacrament anywhere near the Sanctuary (perhaps in a separate room). Let's hope the new bishop doesn't change the existing position of the Eucharist in the Cathedral, for example. 

    37. Rubyshine January 12, 2015 at 9:38 pm

      Just came across this article from back in June http://cathnews.co.nz/2014/06/27/bishop-directs-tabernacles-go-back-centre-sanctuaries/ about an American Bishop.

      Rosario, it's interesting that you mention Fr. Anselm at St Columba's. Do you happen to know if they have a mid-week mass there? I thought that had a 9am Mass, but when I went along one day the Church was empty. So I wondered if I had the time or day wrong.

    38. Dominican January 12, 2015 at 10:16 pm

      Rubyshine, the Diocesan Website says Weekday Mass at Frankton Parish  – 9am

    39. Teresina January 12, 2015 at 10:24 pm

      Mrs Mac, I don't know if you would be able to attend as it may be too far away for you but there is a traditional (EF) Latin Mass celebrated on the third Sunday of the month at St Francis de Sales and All Souls, the beautiful church in Devonport at 4.30pm and it is being celebrated this Sunday.  I rang and confirmed that it would be celebrated this Sunday.

      Rosario, yes, Fr Boyce is very orthodox and he chants the Sunday Mass which is quite lovely; he says a beautful Latin EF Mass every Wednesday, 6.00pm at the nun's chapel, which is a beautiful peaceful Mass.

      As regards tabernacles in Christchurch, I found a few parishes with the tabernacle behind the altar, some had the tabernacle just off to the side, most had crucifixes and kneelers.  The following I found the tabernacle in the centre or just off to the side: Bryndwyer – St Matthew's tabernacle behind the altar; the same in Akaroa; Holy Cross Chapel; Hokitika St Mary's; Sockburn, Our Lady of Victories (odd looking tabernacle though); Temuka, St Joseph's (lovely tabernacle); Waimate, St Patrick's (beautiful marble altar).

      There are some beautiful old churches but many didn't show the interior so I couldn't check where the tabernacle is located, but I noticed most of the churches at least had the tabernacle in the body of the church facing the people.  I think the problem is the Novus Ordo Mass with the emphasis on a meal has led the tabernacle to be moved because some priests didn't like having their backs to the tabernacle.

      Perhaps Hotch 257 (thanks for your interestsing post) could tell us what the situation is like in Christchurch and if he knows anything about Bishop Elect Lowe.

      Rubyshine: that is an excellent link – thanks.  St Colomba's at Frankton normally has 9.00 am Mass each day but sometimes Fr Aherne goes to Raglan – I think it is the third Sunday of the month and there is no Mass on that Friday.  It may be that Fr Aherne was away when you went there.

      Marko, thank you for that link – lovely pics and the beautiful voice of Enya – a video that brings great peace.  Thank you and God bless.

    40. Hotch 257 January 13, 2015 at 8:45 am

      Thanks for those kind words of welcome Mrs Mac. It was my first experience of the EF and I'll definitely be going back.


      In relation to the opening question, there are obviously people who treat the Church a little bit like a smorgasboard when it comes to the teachings and practices. Contraception, divorce and remarriage and conhabitation immediately come to mind.Our challenge today is to get these people in full communion as much as it is to evangelise to non-catholics.

      Regarding tabernacles – in Christchurch the following have Tabernacles at or near the  centre behind the alter: OLV Sockburn, Our Lady of the Assumption Culverden, St. Rapheal's Hawarden (in fact, all in the Good Shepherd Parish). The ones off to the side include CTK Burnside, Pro-Cathedral and our old one in St. Patrick's in Lincoln. This is off the top of my head!


      Re Bishop-Elect Lowe – I have met him once and he seemed lovely. He was just about to begin a stint with Christ the King Parish in Burnside when he got the call to become Bishop. That makes two priests  the North Island have stolen to become Bishops. Something in the water huh? He seems to be very humble and orthodox.



    41. rosario January 13, 2015 at 9:59 am

      Thanks, folks, for the true picture in Christchurch churches regarding the Tabernacle! I obviously didn't look well enough.

      Thanks also for the update on Father Boyce. I will make a point of attending Sunday Mass there. The Proud to be Catholic website says Mass there is at 9am. Is that up to date?

    42. Teresina January 13, 2015 at 10:10 am

      Thank you Hotch 257, that is good to hear about Bishop-elect Lowe.  I am sure one of these days we may return the favour with one or two of our very orthodox priests we have in Hamilton becoming bishops in the South Island – Bishop-elect Lowe I am will have no hesitation in recommending them as future bishops.  Deo gratias.

      In addition Bishop Jones has issued instructions about the rebuilding of churches in Christchurch destroyed by the earthquake – as reported in NZ Catholic last year:

      "Beautiful traditional churches are expected in Christchurch as the diocese gears towards rebuilding next year some churches destroyed by the 2011 earthquake.  

      … In the four-page pamphlet entitled “The House of God”, Bishop Jones states, “Generally, modernist styles have not served the liturgy well. In building a new church, parishes should seek architects capable of using traditional styles (e.g., Gothic — Darfield; Classical
      Revival — the cathedral) but not simply replicating a particular church.”
      The bishop also quotes the General Instruction of the Roman Missal: “The character and beauty of the church should foster devotion and show forth the holiness of the liturgical mysteries.”

      With that in mind perhaps Bishop-elect Lowe will consider restoring or at least preserving the facade (as they are required to do in Wellington) of the Institute de Notre Dames des Missions, which the Bishop Emeritus Browne wants to have torn down.  I have read that there are now quite cheap ways of doing earthquake restrengthening pouring rubber into columns, etc, and to tear down a heritage building for offices seems destructive for no real gain.  Hamilton has very few buildings worth looking at and this is one of them.  I hope Bishop-elect Lowe, coming from Christchurch where they do have beautiful churches does reconsider this decision.

    43. John Whyte January 13, 2015 at 10:56 am


      Just in regards to your questions about how much leeway Priest's have moving things around in churches:

      The situation is complicated and there are several rules.  The first is monetary.  I believe that the parish priest can authorise spending of up to $2,000 on a the building at any one time, with spending of above $10,000 needing approval by the bishop.  All amounts that the priest cannot authorise also need the sign off of the Parish Finance Committee, which is NOT the same as the Parish Council/Parish Leadership Team/other name it may be called.    

      Additionally any major change needs to be approved by the bishop.  Major changes are the installation or moving new liturgical items (altars, tabernacles, baptismal fonts, etc).  Minor changes are additional pews, and usually religious art.  Greyer areas are redesigns of confessionals, foyer space, etc.  


      Rosario – mass is 9am at St Pius every day.  

      To use the baptismal font as an example, its reinstallation (after its recovery) needed two liturgical opinions as to the location of it, (and a submission by the restorer's studio as to its location).  Approval from the Bishop.  Approval by the finance committee.  Also there was a consultation period, (not strictly necessary but for projects where there are many opinions it would be.) 

    44. Benedicta January 13, 2015 at 11:58 am

      More comments on new Cardinal designates from Monday Vatican.



      Yes, interesting times. 

      Re all the comments on Ronheimer (who I haven't personally followed or read) and am also critical of New Natural Law theorists like Grisez. The simplest approach to what seem ethical dilemmas (and they are not always easy to work through!) is to hold to two simple principles. 1) The intention and its end action must be good in itself (not just good for me but good in itself) 2) All those actions which occur in order to bring the good end about must be good actions in themselves. 

      It is the direct killing of unborn as an action which exhibits all the hallmarks of an immoral action even though the intention may benefit some person.

      An ectopic pregnancy which threatens the life of the mother  is a difficult one as the nascent life is not compatible with human flourishing. At the same time it cannot be directly killed. One moral way to approach the situation would be to stop the blood supply to the nascent life as the direct action itself to avoid further damage to the fallopian tube…the death of the nascent life is an unintended consequence of that action and not a direct consequence.

      It is not always a simple thing to work through…but the two principles above are sound. 

      There was a situation mentioned on Being Frank as a hypothetical case; you have a gun, p person is trapped in or under a vehicle which is on fire, they are going to die, efforts to reach them have failed…they will burn alive…what do you do? You can shoot them in order to render them unconscious but not to directly kill them. Shooting a gun is not evil in itself but only a good or evil action by the purpose to which it is put. Shooting to stop something may be a good in itself. 

      I have come across situations where perhaps an unborn has been determined to be incompatible with life once born i.e. anencephaly. This is a tragedy but I would not support direct abortion in this case because the child lives and though it will not survive much after birth it death is not immanent in utero. The best thing a Christian could do here is to let it take its own natural course, that would be the best for the child and the parents who at least could name it, baptise it and help it through its last hours….a short life is not less a life. 

      Just my thoughts for the New Year. 

      Happy New Year to you all.  




    45. Rubyshine January 13, 2015 at 12:00 pm

      Thanks Dominican and Teresina, I understood it to be a 9am Mass too. I can't recall what day of the week it was but it wouldn't have been Friday as I would have just gone to St Peter Chanel, if I wasn't working.

      Oh well, I guess I'll try them out another day.

      John Whyte I don't know if what you say cheers me up or not. On the one hand it's positive because no one person or small group of people should be able to railroad things. On the other hand it sounds like a number of people would have had to agree to the changes at the church I was speaking of.

      Dominican where is/was the confessional at St Pius? I've never been able to work that out.

    46. Benedicta January 13, 2015 at 12:06 pm

      You are all right about pews being jammed together. I squeeze between…extremely awkward and its not a matter of heftiness! 

      I think it is rather cruel….ridiculous in fact. 


    47. Dominican January 13, 2015 at 12:10 pm

      Rubyshine, the confessional  has been reduced to a room with one door which it is required to share with the music paraphernalia.  Appalling really.  Just about where the organ is sited and behind the wood panelling on the brick wall.  I was told the original doors have been saved and in safekeeping but the cost requires the procedures to be followed as John has outline above.

      St Patricks Te Awamutu now  has the "real thing"   WONDERFUL!!!

    48. Teresina January 13, 2015 at 1:14 pm

      Dominican, St Peter Chanel also has the "real thing" (sounds like a Code ad!) but you either have to wait outside the confessional box for the priest to come or you have to ask the priest to go to confession.  That takes away the anonomity, even though in many instances the priest may know who is on the other side of the screen.  But I imagine that would put many people off going for a start.  Another thing about face to face confessions is that they seem to take a lot longer and often people miss out going to confession especially at the Cathedral although now I have seen the priest stay in the confessional for a short period while Mass is on so that people can go to confession.  I think this is important especially at the Cathedral leading up to holy days, Christmas and Easter, etc,  when more people tend to go to confession.  At St Mary of the Angels there always used to be a priest hearing confessions during Mass.  I think that confessional boxes should all revert to the old way of going to confession, especially so it is a safeguard for the priest.  If anyone needs to have a discussion with a priest when they have particular concerns they need help with they could make an appointment.  That would speed confessions up too.

    49. Teresina January 13, 2015 at 1:17 pm

      The "real thing" sorry I meant sounds like a Coke ad!  

      Yes, at the cathedral many of the seats are put very close together – even for people thinner than I am – and it is very hard to kneel down so you have to find an appropriate row!

    50. Teresina January 13, 2015 at 1:31 pm

      Also, I might add that there are confessions at Melville every Saturday before and after Mass, and the priest is there for as long as it takes to hear everyone, so from 9.30 am onwards usually until 10.00/10.15.


    51. bamac January 13, 2015 at 1:36 pm


      I found this close benches without kneelers in a church in Christchurch and in England …. I always took an end seat and when the congregation was standing for the Consecration , I knelt in the aisle … sypathetic looks and all.

      God Bless,

      Mrs Mac


    52. Jerome January 13, 2015 at 2:31 pm

      rosario re Fr Boyce–looked at him today at Mass and wondered if was what Christ would call a perfect priest–innocent suffering soul, if we had the ability of Divine judgement I bet we would think so. Perhaps too St John of the Cross' idea of the priest who detaches from lower nature's claiming religion where it has no claim; no vulgar music, only Chants that almost bear the beauty of a martry's death in Boyce's work. but to receive Fr Boyces teaching a purification has to come first –the night of faith–where mysteries of Christ are contemplated not degraded into something to be liked or disliked according to their ability to entertain the senses..

    53. Rubyshine January 13, 2015 at 2:54 pm

      Teresina – I don't really care about anonymity when confessing (surely priests don't spend much time thinking about such things?), but I prefer the traditional confessional because it allows me to say what I have to say without making eye contact or watching the other person's face. I can just put my head in my hands and spit it out.

      Benedicta – the treatment of ectopic pregnancies are one of those things that I can't really get my head around the morals of, and it feels like splitting hairs. I suppose if I was in that situation, because an ectopic pregnancy will not survive, my thinking would be, "do whatever you have to do to keep me safe, and if you can protect my fertility by saving the tube then that would be great too."

      I hope if I am in ever such a situation that I have the presence of mind/time to really understand the medical procedure and give thought to any moral implications.

      This situation seems a very different one to a baby with a severe defect that will almost certainly die shortly after birth, but presents no risk to the mother's health. 

    54. rosario January 13, 2015 at 5:12 pm

      Jerome…"rosario re Fr Boyce–looked at him today at Mass and wondered if was what Christ would call a perfect priest–innocent suffering soul, if we had the ability of Divine judgement I bet we would think so." Unless Father Boyce has had an ultra-makeover from God since an incident with him some years ago, I wouldn't call him a perfect priest – and I had a good witness to that incident. Even saints have there off-days, I should imagine, so I will be at this Sunday's Mass to re-assess.

      At the Cathedral 12 noon Mass today Father Reno Alima gave us his usual excellent sermon, bringing the Gospel pages to life, so to speak. I was actually thinking after that he may possibly be a bishop one day. I don't think there is any priest in the Diocese who can equal his sermons. I thought he was only in his twenties, but someone has suggested she thinks he is in his forties. Speaks with maturity, though, regardless of his age. 

    55. Teresina January 13, 2015 at 6:29 pm

      Beautifully said, Jerome.  Yes, I think that is what is needed and what has been lost such a lot in recent years is the sense of the mystery of Christ, His sacrifice, His love for us, all embodied in the sense of the sacred that is there at Fr Boyce's Mass, in both forms of the Mass.

      Rosario, every priest can have an off day and they are under a lot of pressure with all sorts of issues.  I can say I have had sharp responses with quite a few priests in Hamilton, and I felt a bit aggrieved at the time but then I thought that I would be short with quite a few people if I was on call more or less 24 hours a day, suffering sometimes from lack of sleep etc.

      Mrs Mac, you remind me of my cousin who in Palmerston North kneels in the aisle for the consecration so she can see the host – she is little and can't see anything with all of them standing as they do.  Bravo, you are both one of Christ's soldiers!

    56. Teresina January 13, 2015 at 6:33 pm

      Rubyshine, yes, but I understand that anonymity is supposed to be provided for confession.  Many people, for example, don't like goign to their parish priest.  I heard a priest say once in a sermon that priests who hear confession don't remember at all what anyone has said because they hear so many – well, that was quite a few years ago now but I imagine that is still the same because often people are confessing more or less the same or similar sins.

    57. sienna January 13, 2015 at 8:00 pm

      Rosario, if you are only going to Melville parish to re-assess Fr Boyce then you are going for the wrong reason. They come to Melville from cross town and from out of town for a variety of reasons I imagine but I shouIdn't think to assess his performance was one of them.  I was once told "you feel safe with Fr Boyce – he loves the church and encourages us to live fully catholic lives.

    58. Rubyshine January 13, 2015 at 9:27 pm

      I think perhaps the idea of perfection as a Priest during Mass and as a Priest going about day to day life and work are not the same thing. I don't think any of us are perfect going about out day to day work, and I certainly don't expect perfection from our Priests. They are human after all.

    59. Benedicta January 13, 2015 at 10:17 pm


      Yes, situations get very complicated. But the principles remain the same I think…the embryo is alive and deserves the dignity pertaining to that of a person….to directly kill it even in order to save the fallopian tube or complications is not the best way forward. To rather protect the mother by stopping the blood supply which supports the growth of the embryo is the best way as in itself it is the action of stopping the blood supply which protects the mother, the death of the embryo is the unintended consequence. This is really the only just way for both nascent life and the mother. 

      Any direct action of itself such as directly removing the live embryo by resection of the fallopian tube would be wrong. 

      The whole thing can feel like splitting hairs because to modern sensibilities the embryo is causing problems for the mother and so isn't consciously present as the individual life it actually is. Whatever the situation the dignity pertaining to human persons is that they can't be reduced to problems to be eliminated. So the best pathways are those which protect both lives in so far as it is possible to do so. Even if death is imminent in due course it is still a mistake to then say we will directly kill it now. After all death is imminent for us all…..a short life in time is no less a life then a long one….a nascent life is not a fully formed being but has within it all that it is already to be….so we recognise the dignity of its life and full human worth. 

      Try googling the Didache. An extremely early instruction for Christians….in it is an unjunction against abortion….interesting. 

    60. Teresina January 13, 2015 at 10:18 pm

      Rosario, one point you mentioned I overlooked you mentioned St Colomba's and said "the Sunday music group is superb".  Is this comment tongue-in-cheek?  If not, then I am surprised that you would like that music group.  I find it the worst in Hamilton and it has been the reason for people no longer attending St Colomba's.  The music group have said that they lead the Sunday liturgy (leaving me to wonder where does that leave the priest?).  One of my friends complained to the parish priest about the group and was told, "And sure, Jesus is boogying down with them".  She told him she found it impossible to pray with the racket.  The answer was that if she wanted to pray that she should go elsewhere because it was a community celebration.  When I used to go there the band was so bad, the women gyrating their hips in time to the music, and everything guitars to bongo drums to shakers was the order of the day.  One part they sang, "raise your voices, sing his glory" used to remind me of "raise your glasses, sing his glory" because it was no better than a beer hall drinking song; the amen was an absolute crescendo that was way to loud for comfort.  I used to attend the 8.00 am Mass there until the 10.00 am band decided that they wanted to have a knees up there to – so I left in disgust – who wants to have such rude, loud music that hour of the morning?  Certainly not me.

    61. Benedicta January 13, 2015 at 10:26 pm

      Is it OK to belong to a church but not agree with everything it teaches?

      I think this is a clumsy way of putting it. For one it implies that not agreeing might mean the knowledge is known, understood and then rejected in favour of another view. Rather I think there is a lot of invincible ignorance….that many think they know this or that teaching but don't really. After all most of us don't know the full implications of this or that teaching to its very depths. 

      What I have found is that simply most dogmas and doctrines taken each by themselves can seem to be a smorgasbord offering…one is tempted to go with this or not with that. But within the depth of all dogma and teaching is the one Omega point they each track back to – God. The doctrine of God and so the Holy Trinity and therefore us in relation to God. 

      To kneel or not kneel to the Presence of God is not simply an action we can decide for or against without it impinging on what we are saying about the Presence of God and our own presence in God's presence. It also speaks of the relation of God and creature, do we meet as equals or should one bow the knee? If God is only interested in the state of our subjective mind on the matter why did He create us with bodies by which to worship by bodily action…so is kneeling in a way a denial of our own bodyliness. 

      Everything comes back to Who and what God is and who we are….each time we tweem a doctrine or a pastoral practice we are interpreting that relationship….for the most part in many instances in a way which doesn't reflect reality but rather a myth we fancy. 

    62. Benedicta January 13, 2015 at 10:35 pm

      Is it OK to belong to a church but not agree with everything it teaches?

      What the question also conveys is the confusion of opinion with truth. I suppose in principle one must say if one belongs to a Church that they believe it teaches truth (or it would be crazy to belong). So if we trust that it holds the truth of Revelation through Christ why would we not trust it in all that it holds of  Revelation in Christ? Our thoughts, opinions and feelings need to become orientated to the fullness of truth…afterall it is that step which holds us there in the Church from the outset so rather than reject the teachings we need to continually renew and reorient ourselves toward the fullness of Revelation….without the Church we have no light except our own opinion and Grace. But Grace has provided the Church so we test God when we demand the light of truth without the Church or apart from it? We insult God when we demand that truth lies within the parameters of our own subjective insight….if we know to do and say otherwise…that is the big question and takes us in the mystery of human self-knowledge….which only God can truly judge. 

    63. Rubyshine January 13, 2015 at 10:58 pm

      Benedicta, the situation of an ectopic pregnancy doesn't feel like splitting hairs to me because, " to modern sensibilities the embryo is causing problems for the mother and so isn't consciously present as the individual life it actually is." It feels like splitting hairs because, if doctors feel that surgery is the best approach rather than waiting to see if the pregnancy miscarriages naturally and safely then, death of the embryo is going to happen and happen imminently regardless of what procedure is chosen. So why not choose the one that optimises my own health and fertility.

      I think I can see the consequences on my soul of actively killing the embryo by removal vs the blood supply option. I guess part of me knows that 6 mths ago if I was in this situation I would have without hesitation have said to the Dr. save my tube if you can. It's a little confronting to consider that such a decision could have had lasting impact on my soul. Although does it if you make such a choice without fully understanding the consequences?

      I came across this article on a blog that seems relevant to the conversation.  http://catholicdefense.blogspot.co.nz/search?updated-min=2015-01-01T00:00:00-06:00&updated-max=2016-01-01T00:00:00-06:00&max-results=3 It is mostly about why Catholics believe in the infallibility of the Church and the Pope and also outlines the danger of private judgement and how ultimately that reduces the idea of the Dvinity of God to private judgement. 


    64. Teresina January 13, 2015 at 10:58 pm

      I am not all together sure of what the Church allows with regard to tubal pregnancies, although I have read that there can be an attempt to move the child from the tube so that it has a chance to grow.  Martin Rhonheimer, however, puts forward several ideas, such as craniotomy (crushing the baby's head) and other methods that have been to date rejected by the Church as direct killing of the baby.  The majority of Catholic ethicists I have read reject Rhonheimer's view, including William May – abstract of his paper:

      "Martin Rhonheimer has written extensively on disputed issues in medical ethics: the use of condoms to prevent HIV, contraception, masturbation to provide semen for analysis, and at length on "vital conflicts" in medical ethics that arise in a pregnancy in which the lives of both the mother and the child are seriously threatened. If nothing is done, both will die, but if a medical intervention is performed, the child will die but the mother has a chance of living. After offering his interpretation of relevant magisterial documents on the difference between "direct" and "indirect" killing and of St. Thomas's teaching on the lawfulness of killing in self-defense and the principle of double effect, Rhonheimer proposes to solve conflicts of this kind by an ethical analysis based on what he calls a "virtue-based ethics" concerned with rendering justice to both mother and child. Using this approach he justifies craniotomy, salpingectomy, and salpingo(s)tomy as morally permissible ways of saving the mother's life without doing any injustice while rejecting use of the drug methotrexate to end a tubal pregnancy. His analysis can be seriously challenged as rooted in a misinterpretation of key magisterial documents and for failing to consider the principle of double effect revised to bring it into harmony with Aquinas's teaching on the distinction between killing as intended and as the unintended although foreseen effect of an act of legitimate self-defense" 

      Martin Rhonheimer and Some Disputed Issues in Medical Ethics: Masturbation, Condoms, Craniotomies, and Tubal Pregnancies


      William May



      There is quite a long article dealing with Rhonheimer which says his views are heretical for the following reasons:

      "In his article, The truth about condoms, Fr. Martin Rhonheimer confuses the intention of an act and the moral object of an act. This is a common misunderstanding in Catholic ethics, and a frequent source of error in the moral writings of Fr. Rhonheimer.

      This error is also the very reason that Rhonheimer’s writings are so popular. He provides a theological methodology for nullifying one of the most difficult teachings of the Catholic Faith, that certain kinds of acts are always immoral, regardless of intention or circumstances, due to their moral object. By redefining moral object in terms of intention and circumstances, he transforms acts that are intrinsically evil and always immoral, into acts that are evil based only on the extrinsic considerations of intention and circumstances, not the intrinsic moral nature of the act. With this approach, an intrinsically evil act can be (falsely) claimed to be moral if you have a good intention or difficult circumstances. Morality becomes dependent on your will, not on the will and nature of God who is Justice itself.

      Rhonheimer’s approach is heretical, because the Universal Magisterium has infallibly taught that certain kinds of acts are intrinsically evil and always immoral. His approach nullifies that teaching, since the kind of act is not even considered, and the moral object is redefined in a manner contrary to definitive Catholic teaching. Intrinsically evil are no longer always immoral, in his view, because a change in intention or circumstances makes the very same act supposedly moral. Fr. Rhonheimer is a heretic and a teacher of heresy — and that is exactly why his writings are so widely accepted."


      It seems to me that some priests of Opus Dei have fallen victim to Rhonheimer's ethics – in fact they may well have been taught by Rhonheimer at the Holy Cross Seminary.  Therefore, I am not surprised that one sermon I heard from an Opus Dei priest said that we must tolerate things, even if they are wrong, for the sake of unity.  That is certainly not the Catholic position I was taught, nor that expressed by Catholic theologians.  The Church teaches that there are always things that are morally wrong and evil that we can never take part in.

    65. rosario January 14, 2015 at 5:39 am

      Siena, I had an unpleasant experience with Father Boyce a while back. My re-assessing, I suppose, is to see if his attitude has changed. I have heard such good praises of him on this forum too, so I'd like to hear him offer a Mass again and preach one of his sermons.

      Teresina, I do like to try other Hamilton churches from time to time, though the Cathedral is my favourite for weekday Masses. The problem with the Cathedral is the music, with the choice of hymns on Sundays on most occasions leaving a lot to be desired. The choice is reflected in the low response singing of the congregation at times. Saint Columba's hymns, on the other hand, have the congregation responding enthusiastically. With the possible exception of Saint Matthews, I don't think another singing group in the Hamilton area is what I would class as inspiring. The soloist singer at Saint Columba's is almost as good as the soloist we had at the Cathedral until recently (don't know what happened to her, but she's sorely missed).

      All music groups in all churches on Sundays, though, need to tone down things during the Offertory and Communion parts of the Mass so that people can concentrate on preparation and thanksgiving. Silence is indeed golden at times.

    66. rosario January 14, 2015 at 5:42 am

      My apology, Sienna, for spelling your name incorrectly. I don't think the forum setup allows editing.

    67. Teresina January 14, 2015 at 9:59 am

      Rosario, I imagine that the reason the crowd at St Colomba's is enthusiastic is that everyone in Hamilton knows what the music is St Colomba's is like, so you would only go there if you could tolerate it and it was the type of music you go for.  Personally, I don't believe that guitars, etc, should be allowed at Mass at all and certainly not when they are played at the volume they are and virtually some of the hymns at St Colomba's – unless they have changed since I went there at least five years ago – the lyrics sound like love songs that any teen would sing to their boyfriend.  The fact that the parish priest said, "Sure, and Jesus is boogying down with them" shows the tone of the music is boogey music.

      I was behind a couple of women on their way to St Peter Chanel for one Saturday evening Mass when the sounds of the band started up from the church.  One woman turned to the other and said, "I can't put up with that" and turned and walked away – I followed after them. The music is loud, banal and repetitive and suitable only for school children – my cousin refers to them as nursery rhymes and I think that sums them up.  Far better to have no music at all than to have to sit through that.  I could go on but what's the point?  Thankfully, that type of music would never be found at a traditional Latin Mass.

    68. Teresina January 14, 2015 at 10:03 am

      Also, Rosario, if you don't like the music at the Cathedral then I don't think Mass at Melville is for you.  The Mass is solemn and chanted.  There is occasionally a band but that is a lot more toned down.  Most of the people attending Melville go there for the reverence of the Mass, especially when the old hymns are sung it is very uplifting.

    69. Dominican January 14, 2015 at 10:15 am

      I understand most of the music used at Frankton is from Pentecostal /AOG sources therefore not written for the Catholic Mass at all!!

    70. sienna January 14, 2015 at 10:24 am

      Rosario- how strange that you appear to believe Fr Boyce's attitude needs to change. I fail to see how you could ascertain that by just attending a Mass he is offering.  Could it be you wish to do something not approved for inclusion in the liturgy?  Just wondering.

      Fr Boyce prays the mass  – no dramatics no theatricals  – just prayer.  You do see the man in his homilies.  A sense of humour and a great love for the church and its teachings and obedience to all things

    71. Teresina January 14, 2015 at 10:35 am

      Yes, Dominican that is correct, I understand that the band at Frankton also attend the AOG Church as well … obviously where they get their inspiration from.

      Totally agree with your comments, Sienna.

    72. Teresina January 14, 2015 at 10:48 am

      Also, I have to add that it has been commented by those who grew up with the Latin Mass that Fr Boyce says the traditional Latin Mass perfectly.  His sermons also have a subtle sense of humour, so you have to listen carefully sometimes otherwise it will go over your head! 

    73. Rubyshine January 14, 2015 at 12:07 pm

      Do other priests have dramatic or theatrical Masses? I know Fr. Boyce is very popular, and I'm not knocking him because I certainly have no complaints about him. I'm just curious as to what other Priests do that could be deemed dramatic.

      I've only witnessed maybe a dozen different priests saying Mass, so that's not a huge sample, but I really can't think of anything to complain about in respect to how they said the Mass. 


    74. sienna January 14, 2015 at 12:28 pm

      Yes, Rubyshine, there are some priests who adopt a different persona when offering Mass – eg in the way they speak – their voices are raised unnaturally (ringmaster type attitude) they appear to be and act like the controller when in actual fact they are the servant standing in the place of Christ.  Didn't happen when they offered the mass  leading from the front on our behalf and facing the same way as the congregation.

    75. Teresina January 14, 2015 at 2:02 pm

      Rubyshine, if you attend a traditional Mass you will find that the priest is subsumed by the Mass – he is not the prominanet actor as happens in many Novus Ordo Masses – and people concentrate on praying the Mass along with him and so the focus is on God rather than the priest.

      But in fact, the instructions and rubrics for the celebration of the Novus Ordo Mass are very similar.  The priest is not to push himself forward, not to make introductions at the beginning of Mass, not to look left and right as he comes down the aisle or shake hands with people as he comes down the aisle or make introductions such as "Good morning, everyone" or add any additions or ad lib in any way as often happens – we all have a hearty laugh and introductions all around before Mass in many parishes.  Similarly, at the sign of peace the priest is not supposed to leave the sanctuary and parade around the church as some do.

      Often you find that the priest gives his homily in the aisle, which he is not supposed to do either.  In New Zealand we thankfully haven't suffered from a lot of the abuses that have happened overseas with the priest donning "Barney" outfits, and riding into the church on a jeep dressed as Superman.  All of these actions promote the priest.  If he just wants to appear like a good, ordinary guy he can surely do that after Mass in chatting to parishioners.

      When you go to Fr Boyce's Mass you know what you are going to get: a Mass according to the rubrics with no surprises.

    76. bamac January 14, 2015 at 3:40 pm


      When the priest is celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass,  or any of the Sacramenents, he is acting In Personna Christus,   he is Alter Christus , he is not acting as an MC … the Holy Mass is Christ's prayer and offering to God His Father and our Faher… we join in offering Jesus to the Father and ourselves and our lives along with Him

      This link helped bring the wonderful value of the priesthood in new a richer way to me when I saw it .. I hope that it might for you too 


      There are some priests who seem to act as though they have to win the attention and admiration of the congregation instead of helping the peoples' thoughts to turn to God in adoration …. in many cases , I believe ,  that some of their modern training in the seminary is lacking ,  in the same way as is much of the religious training in our Catholic schools and from so many pulpits  (oops! they have gone haven't they  and been replaced by lecturns)   This understanding of the priest being Alter Christus comes across much more clearly in the celebration of the T L M Holy Mass.

      Priests today have to withstand so muchmore pressure than did priests earlier on …… how hard we must pray to God that He strengthens them both spititually and physically too,

      God Bless,

      Mrs Mac