Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hey monkey - where is my Hamlet?

h/t to Fr Z for this

This is a play on the odds that our planet Earth just "happened by pure chance".

And… given enough typewriters and monkeys, and enough time, one of them would by the random bashing of keys duplicate Hamlet - Yep, sure; there is a budding Shakespeare in every monkey. Just give it time and enough paper. Sure. There, there now.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Tribute to Cardinal Avery Dulles

I know he died on December 12, 2008 but I think it good to commemorate the late Cardinal Avery Dulles.
May he rest in peace.
He has many very good Theological essays. For instance see this on the Filioque clause in the creed.

Please pray for the soul of Card. Avery Dulles who passed away aged 90.

Card. Dulles on apologetics:
"...In a pluralist society like our own, religious faith is felt to be divisive. To avoid conflict Christians frequently take refuge in the excuse that people should be left free to make up their own minds about what to believe. After all, they say, no one can be argued into faith. Even to raise the question of truth in religion is considered impolite.

This withdrawal from controversy, though it seems to be kind and courteous, is insidious. Religion becomes marginalized to the degree that it no longer dares to raise its voice in public. This privatization has debilitating consequences for the faith of believers themselves. If we do not consider that it is important for others to hear the Christian proclamation, we inevitably begin to question its importance for ourselves. The result is a massive loss of interest in religious teaching. The reluctance of believers to defend their faith has produced all too many fuzzyminded and listless Christians, who care very little about what is to be believed. Their halfhearted religion is far removed from that of the apostles and the martyrs. It is a degenerate offspring of authentic Christianity.

Recognizing that faith is enfeebled if its rational grounds are denied, committed Christians are today returning to apologetics..."

(From "The Rebirth of Apologetics", First Things, May 2004)

Cardinal Dulles resources are available here

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christian faith gives dignity to Africans - atheistic Times columnist

Matthew Parris in The Times says that in his experience of Africa over many years, that practice of the Christian Faith brings dignity to African people.
Missionaries, not aid money, he says are the solution to Africa's biggest problem - the crushing passivity of the people's mindset:

Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

I used to avoid this truth by applauding - as you can - the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It's a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith.

But this doesn't fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing.

First, then, the observation. We had friends who were missionaries, and as a child I stayed often with them; I also stayed, alone with my little brother, in a traditional rural African village. In the city we had working for us Africans who had converted and were strong believers. The Christians were always different. Far from having cowed or confined its converts, their faith appeared to have liberated and relaxed them. There was a liveliness, a curiosity, an engagement with the world - a directness in their dealings with others - that seemed to be missing in traditional African life. They stood tall.......

{Christian also worked for secular NGOs] It would suit me to believe that their honesty, diligence and optimism in their work was unconnected with personal faith. Their work was secular, but surely affected by what they were. What they were was, in turn, influenced by a conception of man's place in the Universe that Christianity had taught.

There's long been a fashion among Western academic sociologists for placing tribal value systems within a ring fence, beyond critiques founded in our own culture: “theirs” and therefore best for “them”; authentic and of intrinsically equal worth to ours.

I don't follow this. I observe that tribal belief is no more peaceable than ours; and that it suppresses individuality. People think collectively; first in terms of the community, extended family and tribe. This rural-traditional mindset feeds into the “big man” and gangster politics of the African city: the exaggerated respect for a swaggering leader, and the (literal) inability to understand the whole idea of loyal opposition.

Anxiety - fear of evil spirits, of ancestors, of nature and the wild, of a tribal hierarchy, of quite everyday things - strikes deep into the whole structure of rural African thought. Every man has his place and, call it fear or respect, a great weight grinds down the individual spirit, stunting curiosity. People won't take the initiative, won't take things into their own hands or on their own shoulders.

The Christian faith make strengh to make a stand against sin and abuse

Philip Jenkins has a great piece up on The New Republic site explaining why homosexuality is such a big deal for African Christians. I knew that it was vitally important in Christianity’s rivalry with Islam, as Jenkins explains:

The Muslim context helps explain the sensitivity of gay issues in one other key respect. In the region later known as Uganda, Christianity first arrived in the 1870s, when the area was already under Muslim influence and a hunting ground for Arab slave-raiders. The king of Buganda had adopted Arab customs of pederasty, and he expected the young men of his court to submit to his demands. But a growing number of Christian courtiers and pages refused to participate, despite his threats, and an enraged king launched a persecution that resulted in hundreds of martyrdoms: On a single day, some 30 Bugandans were burned alive. Yet the area’s churches flourished, and, eventually, the British expelled the Arab slavers. That foundation story remains well-known in the region, and it intertwines Christianity with resistance to tyranny and Muslim imperialism–both symbolized by sexual deviance. Reinforcing such memories are more recent experiences with Muslim tyrants, such as Idi Amin, whose victims included the head of his country’s Anglican Church. For many Africans, then, sexual unorthodoxy has implications that are at once un-Christian, anti-national, and oppressive.

St. Charles Lwanga and the Ugandan martyrs, Catholics who died for the faith at the hands of a pederast king give glory to God by their show of faith. They are an example and a help to all Christians.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Maynooth lecturer calls Infancy narratives fictions

A longtime lecturer in Dogmatic Theology at Maynooth, Fr Martin Henry has described the Infancy Narratives of the Gospels as fictions.
The longtime lecturer in Maynooth Pontifical University has, I believe been bamboozeling students for years with Japanese poetry and references to Neitzche.
I see, very appropriately that one of his books are entitled, 'On not understanding God (1997) and another is
Tangents: Essays and Reflections ( 2008).
Very appropriate. In my opinion, Fr Henry is an agnostic who does not believe very much of what the Catholic Church believes. It is a scandal that such a lecturer has been allowed to teach at Maynooth for years.
When people seek why Maynooth turns out such a stream of theological illiterates, they won't have to look far past Fr Henry for an answer.

Madam, - I wonder if Prof Brian Arkins is missing the point of the Nativity stories in the Gospels? The facts he states are not in dispute. But what may be in dispute is his interpretation of the Gospels as a literary genre.

I find Morna Hooker's book Beginnings: Keys that Open the Gospelsmore enlightening than Prof Arkins's array of petits faits vrais on the point of Matthew's and Luke's opening narratives. Of course they are fictions - what else do you expect religious poetry to be? But being fiction isn't the same thing as being fraudulent, false or meaningless - or, worse still, well-meaning. Nor need fictions be without allusion to "real" places and events, though that is not their "point".

The 18th-century champions of the European Enlightenment were reluctant to go beyond the "hard facts" of history - as, curiously enough, are contemporary fundamentalists. Prof Arkins is certainly doing his bit to try to drag little Ireland, kicking and screaming, into the 18th century. But who wants to live in the 18th century? - Yours, etc,


Lecturer in Dogmatic Theology,
St Patrick's College,
Maynooth, Co Kildare.

Irish Times Thursday 24th Dec 08.

The Priests singing Pie Jesu

This is a beautiful song.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas to one and all

Et Verbum caro factum est

'For on to us a Child is given'

Bouguereau, Adolphe-William
Virgin and Child
Oil on canvas
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide

Christmas Message from Cardinal Seán Brady

'Re-capitalise' the family and community: Cardinal Brady

“There is much talk about re-capitalising the banks with cash. This Christmas let us recapitalise our families, our local community and our society with concern for one another and with love. It is an investment which each one of us can make. It is an investment which comes with a guaranteed return. Let us rebuild family and community life as well as our economic system so that our future prosperity will be built on more solid foundations than it was before.”

Church in Ireland ignores Catholic teaching on Anglican orders

Procession of Anglican Clergy in Australia with a friend- Darth Vader

All the joint Christmas statements from Catholic bishops and Anglican "bishops" is a fine example of how many
Catholic bishops ignore the Catholic teaching that Anglican orders are null and void.

If the Catholic bishops accepted 'Apostolicae Curae' by Pope Leo XIII they would not publish joint pamphlets or messages in which
Church of Ireland ministers are identified as 'bishops'.

Here's an example:

Christmas Message - Bishops Buckley & Colton (Joint)

The Most Reverend John Buckley, Bishop of Cork and Ross and The Right Reverend Paul Colton, Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross
"Our celebrations of Christmas come this year in the midst of a difficult time for many people. There have been many expressions of concern about the economic outlook and commercial life in our society, including here in Cork.

We encourage everyone, as a first priority, to celebrate a simple Christmas – a Christmas which concentrates on the Christmas good news of the birth of Jesus Christ the light of the world, a light that no darkness can overcome.

As Jesus Christ himself lived among us as a sign of God’s presence and solidarity with humanity, we encourage everyone to show practical and generous solidarity with those for whom Christmas brings hardship and anxiety. These are times when we need to discover afresh the value of community life, of friendship and of support towards each other.

We wish you all every blessing of joy, peace and hope this Christmas and throughout the New Year."

Apostolicae Curae is the title of a papal bull, issued in 1896 by Pope Leo XIII, declaring all Anglican ordinations to be "absolutely null and utterly void".

The principal objection to Anglican orders being valid, according to Leo XIII, was the alleged deficiency of intention and of form of the Anglican ordination rites. In the case of deficiency of intention, the pope declared that the rites expressed an intention to create a priesthood different from the sacrificing priesthood of the Catholic Church and reduce ordination to a mere ecclesiastical institution, an appointment or blessing, instead of a sacramental conferral of actual grace by the action itself.

In 1998 Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and later Pope Benedict XVI) issued a doctrinal commentary to accompany Pope John Paul II’s apostolic letter Ad Tuendam Fidem,... Ratzinger’s commentary listed Leo XIII’s declaration in Apostolicae Curae that Anglican orders are “absolutely null and utterly void” as one of the teachings to which Catholics must give “firm and definitive assent”.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bishop Magee under pressure in Cloyne

Another crisis of authority - this time in Cloyne.

It is clear that Bishop Magee failed to both carry out the agreed Church guidelines on allegations of child abuse or even carry out an investigation under Canon Law This was reported in the Indo
A few politicians have called for Magee's head, but I shall rest judgement until the whole story comes out.
However, I will say one thing - it looks if guidelines had been followed from the start - there would have been no need for this rigmarole.

Very overlooked in the whole affair was the fact that the matter was thoroughly investigated by the Gardai and there were no charges whatsoever laid against the accused priests.
This came up in the Examiner, but was totally ignored by The Irish Times.

As Kilbarry1 on politics.ie pointed out :
'Last Saturday there were numerous articles in the 3 main dailies about the alleged failure of Bishop Magee of Cloyne (Co Cork) to deal properly with allegations of child abuse made against two priests. Only one article in one paper (Irish Examiner) mentioned that the Director of Public Prosecutions returned the files on both priests with a direction NOT to prosecute.

The following is an extract from the article by Eoin English.

DPP Was Sent 4 files On Priests But No Charges Brought
Irish Examiner.com:(Dec 20, 2008) DPP was sent 4 files on priests but no charges brought

"DESPITE extensive Garda probes, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) decided that two priests in the Cloyne diocese accused of child abuse should not face criminal charges.

Gardaí confirmed that “full and thorough” investigations were carried out into each of the allegations levelled against Fr A and Fr B, both priests in the Cloyne diocese.

But after examining one substantial Garda file in relation to Fr A and three files in relation to Fr B, the DPP directed that neither priest should face criminal prosecution. .......

Supt McCarthy said each of the allegations relating to both priests were investigated “fully and thoroughly”.

“Substantial and comprehensive Garda files were prepared. We took the investigations as far as possible and all possible evidence was gathered,” he said.

A single Garda file in relation to Fr A was forwarded to the DPP in November 2006 but the DPP directed in February 2007 that no prosecution should follow.

Three substantial files relating to allegations against Fr B were forwarded to the DPP some time later and in each of the cases, the DPP directed that no prosecution should follow.

Supt McCarthy confirmed that there are no current investigations relating to alleged child abuse by priests in the Cloyne diocese."

Various commentators have called for Bishop Magee to resign, including many who you would expect - One in Four, etc
David Quinn called for the bishop's resignation, on Morning Ireland I believe, after writing this piece for the Irish Independent

The whole affair is well covered on Clerical Whispers for December 23 and 24th.

Rorate Caeli

Rorate Caeli (Introit)
The Fourth Sunday of Advent recalls the Annunciation when the Word of God took flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary. The words of this introit are taken from Isaiah 45:8 but given a specifically Christ-centred interpretation: "Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the skies rain down the Just One; let the earth open, that the Saviour may sprout forth, and let it cause justice to spring up also; I the LORD have begotten him."

Below is a video of this chant sung by the Dominican brothers at Blackfriars Oxford. [H/T to http://godzdogz.op.org/ ]

Video here

Monday, December 22, 2008

Out of the closet, Gary O'Sullivan

I notice that editor of The Irish Catholic, Gary O'Sullivan has a letter in The Irish Times in support of Diarmuid Martin on the issue of gay marriage/civil unions/ or relationships of depenency - whatever you want to call it.
I believe that Gary O'Sullivan has his own personal reasons for supporting Dr Martin's stance on the legalisation of gay unions - no sorry, relationships of dependency.

Irish Times Letters page

Madam, - Archbishop Diarmuid Martin (November 28th) seeks to clarify the interpretation of remarks he made on marriage and civil unions at a recent Maynooth press conference, which I attended.

Bishops and archbishops can all too easily go down the road of condemnation when speaking out on the issues of the day and know there will be no misunderstanding of their position. To be fair to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, he does try to take the harder road in his public utterances as advocated by Pope Benedict, which is to promote Christianity as a positive option.

It would be a shame if this approach and the merits of the Archbishop's argument were lost because of a misunderstanding of the nuanced position he was trying to articulate.

Dr Martin, while promoting the positives for society of the Christian view of marriage, was also striving to inform those who misinterpret the church's position as uncaring and unsympathetic. The Church does care about the rights of a variety of people in caring and dependent relationships. This position is largely lost in the current debate on marriage and civil unions.

To ensure clarity in future Maynooth press conferences may I suggest to the bishops that the gatherings be less of a sprint to the finish and that they stay behind to meet reporters - who make the effort to travel out to Maynooth - and clarify any queries. - Yours, etc,

managing editor,
The Irish Catholic,
Dublin 12.


A quick websearch shows that Garry O'Sullivan was once communications officer for the Jesuits in Ireland.
This order has had particular problems with theological liberalism and a culture of homosexuality among a number of its
It is sad to read in journals like Inside the Vatican the high number of active homosexuals active within the Jesuit order.
I find it quite sad to see how far the Society of Jesus in Ireland has fallen. It used to have a huge number of vocations, now it has virtually none.

Time for Diarmuid Martin to preach Church's faith or leave

Up until this point the Archbhishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin has talked about 'relationships of dependency' and non-maritial types of intimacy. He has failed to publicly support the Catholic Church's teaching on the immorality of homosexual acts or explain why the Church is opposed to the legalisation of gay civil unions. This is at best a dereliction of duty and at worst a scandal.
Given his refusal to do so over the last four years, I propose it is time to pray that Pope Benedict XVI will promote Diarmuid to a position of absolutely no consequence in the Vatican where he can do less damage than he is doing in Ireland at present.

D Martin - Relationships of Dependency and Intimacy

In The Irish Times Wednesday, November 26, 2008
in article entitled, 'Bishops differ over emphasis on civil unions' It stated:

'He [D Martin] noted that while "the Catholic Church is in favour of marriage, it is not against other forms of intimacy". He added that "consistently, all Christian churches emphasise the uniqueness of marriage based on the complementarity of the sexes", but they addressed other forms of intimacy on other bases.'


[Marriage is for the intimacy between a man and woman.
Other forms of intimacy - such as between two men or two women. Other forms of intimacy - such as homosexual intimacy.]

This was Diarmuid's letter a few day's later. Friday November 28th Nov 2008:

Archbishop and civil unions

Madam, - I have received a number of calls from people who feel that my remarks, as presented in your report of November 26th, "Bishops differ over emphasis on civil unions", seem to indicate that I do not accept Catholic teaching on marriage.

I was responding to a series of questions from journalists regarding a variety of aspects of the forthcoming Civil Partnership Bill. It is possible that the manner in which my different remarks appeared may have given rise to false interpretation.

While saying that I might have addressed the theme differently, I did clearly say that I was supportive of the basic content of Cardinal Brady's position on the Bill and of his comments at the recent Céifin conference.

Above all my remarks wished to stress that the Christian teaching on marriage, rather than starting out from negative criticisms, is a positive endorsement of the unique and irreplaceable contribution to society made by the family based on marriage, that is, on the mutual and exclusive love of husband and wife.

While stressing, as I have consistently done, the Christian teaching on the mutuality of the sexes as fundamental to the understanding of marriage, I am fully aware of the need to protect the rights of a variety of people in caring and dependent relationships, different to marriage.

Unfortunately, some members of the public and some public commentators seize on such comments and concern as an opportunity to say that I advocate positions in conflict with Catholic teaching. For my part, I regret if my comments may have appeared unclear. On the other hand, the contrived polemic of such commentators does little to promote marriage and its value to society.

- Yours, etc,
Archbishop DIARMUID MARTIN, Archbishop's House, Drumcondra, Dublin 9.


This follows on from his earlier statements in November 2004:

Irish Prime Minister and Dublin Catholic Archbishop Back Homosexual Spousal Rights

DUBLIN, November 16, 2004 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Irish homosexual activists who came to Canada to 'marry' and are currently challenging Ireland to grant them spousal inheritance rights have garnered support from Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern and shockingly from Dublin's Catholic Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.

Commenting on the case to the Irish state television RTE, Ahern said, "They say: 'We want more equality and we want to be treated fairer.' I agree with that. I totally agree with that. These people who are in relationships which are not illegal, they're not immoral, they're not improper. We should try to deal with some of the issues they have to surmount in their daily lives. And I think that's the fairest, caring and Christian way to deal with this."

Archbishop Martin was questioned by the Irish Independent newspaper on Ahern statements calling granting the spousal rights the "fairest" and "Christian way to deal with this."

Archbishop Martin told the Irish Independent: "I recognise that there are many different kinds of caring relationships and these often create dependencies for those involved. The State may feel in justice that the rights of people in these relationships need to be protected."

He continued: "I have a wide range of relationships in mind. I do not exclude gay relationships but my main concern is with all caring relationships where dependencies have come into being."

He said the rights "would primarily be inheritance and property."

LifeSiteNews.com contacted the Archdiocese of Dublin to confirm the remarks. "The substance of his comments are accurate," Paul Tighe, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Dublin told LifeSiteNews.com.

Other bishops commenting on such situations have expressed opposition to such spousal rights noting that current provisions allow for wills and private legal arrangements to bequeath or share property between individuals.

Pope John Paul II has made statements on the recognition of spousal rights. In his famous November 4, 2000 address to the world's politicians the Pope counseled them, "with regard to all laws which would do harm to the family, striking at its unity and its indissolubility, or which would give legal validity to a union between persons, including those of the same sex, who demand the same rights as the family founded upon marriage between a man and a woman." He warned "Christian legislators may neither contribute to the formulation of such a law nor approve it in parliamentary assembly, although, where such a law already exists, it is licit for them to propose amendments which would diminish its adverse effects."

And what pray tell - was the media reaction to this statement by D Martin. Yip, wild cheering at his support for gay civil unions:

See the Irish Times of Tue 11 Nov 2004
Archbishop backs rights for same-sex couples

"The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin appears to have given his backing for the legal rights of co-habiting couples, including same-sex couples, to be addressed.The Archdiocese of Dublin today stood over the comments made by Dr Diarmuid Martin but refused to confirm whether they constituted a call on the Government to take action on the issue."

What do you think? Everyone misundertands Diarmuid's support for Gay civil unions or is it a case of 'The World will safely judge.' The Irish Times, The Irish Independent and the people who read his words understood what D Martin said very well.

Dublin's Archbishop Diarmuid Martin supports Gay Civil Unions

Dublin's Diarmuid Martin is still refusing to endorse the Catholic Church's opposition to the legalisation of Civil Unions for homosexuals.

His comments in the last few weeks have angered a large number of lay people (he says he has received a lot of phone calls about his earlier comments) and forced him lament peoples' misunderstanding of what he said.
People understand very well what he means.

He is all in favour of the legalisation of Gay Unions, but he wants to support it by use of dog whistles and ambiguous phrases. What he consistently refuses to do, is to say, in union with the Catholic Church - that homosexual acts are immoral and that he is opposed to the legalisation of civil unions. He just has to say this and all mis-understandings are wiped away immediately.

We read today that he has spend almost half a million during up the Archbishop's Palace for himself, and that he's been out of the Diocese for 53 days since August.
That old joke about 'St Martin de Tours' appears to be correct after all.

But the most important issue is the Archbishop's attempt to undermine the Catholic position on marriage, the very fine defense of marriage by Cardinal Sean Brady.
For this alone - I think it's time for Diarmuid to be promoted by the Vatican to a position where he can do less damage that at present.

In Mid December, Archbishop Martin had the following letter in The Irish Catholic:  

Dear Editor,

I am surprised at the comments of your columnist, Mr David Quinn, (Dec 4) on my remarks at a Press Conference at the conclusion of the Winter meeting of the Irish Episcopal Conference and in my subsequent letter to the Irish Times.

On both occasions I clearly indicated that I was [sic] "was supportive of the basic content of Cardinal Brady's position on the Bill and of his comments made at the recent Ceifin conference", yet Mr Quinn continues to insinuate that in my comments I was placing my myself at odds with those of Cardinal Brady.

I spoke of the contribution of "the family based on marriage, that is, on the mutual and exclusive love of husband and wife" as "unique and irreplaceable". I fail to understand how Mr Quinn could interpret as being "remarkably conciliatory" to any Government which would propose to accord rights belonging to marriage to civil unions.

The debate about civil unions is precisely about a situation in which the mutuality of the sexes is no longer seen as something anthropologically unique and irreplaceable, but simply a cultural construct which can be adapted and changed. That is the central issue which the Church should be addressing in her catechesis and in her witness towards society.

Yours etc.
+Diarmuid Martin

Poor Diarmuid, always seems to be mis-understood doesn't he.
Here's another occasion, asked was missing Sunday Mass a mortal sin, Martin refused to say yes or not, but gives a definition of a mortal sin instead.

Archbishop 'disappointed'

Thursday March 03 2005

Sir - The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, wishes to express his disappointment at the manner in which a recent newspaper interview was taken up in a subsequent article in your paper under the heading 'Missing Sunday Mass is not a mortal sin, says Archbishop'.
In the original interview with another paper, Archbishop Martin addressed the situation of people who had drifted from Church practice, but who still maintained bonds with the Church through prayer and occasional Church attendance. The Archbishop would not be drawn into answering questions about the subjective dispositions of conscience of individuals. In no place did he challenge or deny the current norms of Church teaching and discipline on Mass attendance, as some have interpreted the headline in the Irish Independent.

Indeed the Archbishop clearly recalled the centrality of active membership of the Eucharistic community and attendance at Mass each Sunday.

This matter again indicates the difficulty the Archbishop increasingly encounters in attempting to address questions of Church life, which are complex in their nature and require to be examined in a sensitive manner. The Archbishop sincerely feels a mature debate on Church life is not served when genuine attempts to address these issues in a receptive manner are responded to with superficial newspaper headlines. Archbishop Martin remains genuinely committed to fostering such a debate.

Annette O Donnell,
Director of Communications, Archdiocese of Dublin


A response to article in The Irish Independent entitled:

Missing Sunday Mass is not a mortal sin, says Archbishop

By David Quinn Religious Correspondent

Wednesday February 23 2005

'NOT going to Mass every week isn't necessarily a mortal sin, the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, has said.
Archbishop Martin said there are many people who don't practise "but who may be of deep faith", and that an action is only a mortal sin if a person knows what they are doing is gravely wrong. He said this would rarely be the case "with many of the people who don't go to Mass".

Dr Martin said in a newspaper interview that although Mass and the Eucharist are still central aspects of the faith for Catholics, a new model of the Irish Church was emerging which would see regular, occasional and very sporadic church attendance. He said: "There are many, many instances of people who don't practise, but who may be of deep faith."

He also said it is not necessarily a mortal sin not to go to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days.

Dr Martin said: "I don't go judging individual people - a mortal sin is always a conscious decision on the part of somebody to do something which is seriously wrong.

"And I don't think that is the case with many of those who don't go to Mass."

Reacting to Archbishop Martin's comments, several priests stressed that although they agreed with him that Mass attendance can be over-emphasised, it was still very important to go in order to remain a part of the wider Catholic community.'