Sound English priests react to the Tablet’s bashing of Bp. Davies

My friends Frs. Blake and Finigan have blog entries about the bashing of Bp Davies by The Tablet (aka The Bitter Pill aka RU-486)

From Fr Finigan:

[…] Bishop Davies said to the young people that a previous generation failed to pass on the fullness of the faith. So we are treated to the observation that “No generation ever alive has passed on the fullness of faith to the next. The fullness of faith is beyond us all.” So let us distinguish. The kindly Bishop was not criticising a previous generation for failing to provide an immediate experience of the beatific vision. He was pointing out what it obvious to anyone willing to be honest about the life of the Church in the past few decades. Children, parents and young grandparents have grown up without clear teaching on the divinity of Christ, the infallibility of the Church, the real presence, the Sunday Mass obligation, the wrongfulness of artificial contraception, the existence of purgatory… to list but a few of the doctrines that have been considered too hard. That is what he means by the failure to pass on the fullness of the faith. He is unquestionably right and it is a grave injustice to the People of God if we pretend that it has not happened; and more so if we fail to rectify the situation with urgency.

If just one young Bishop can provoke this kind of opposition with a homily to young people, I wonder how things will be when there are one or two other like-minded Bishops appointed in due course to fill a couple of the many sees that are vacant or becoming so.

From Fr. Blake:

[… ] The last half century has been an attempt by successive Popes to clarify the teaching of the Council.

The Tabet blog, which I have just discovered, is bashing Bishop Davies for saying that faith has not been passed on in recent generations. Sr Gemma Simmonds of Heythrop says in gushing terms. “The greatest gift to our time is the enduring legacy of the Council [VII], the most authoritative gathering of the Church on earth.” I would like to debate with her what she meant by “authoritative”.

She then goes on to deny a principle teaching of the Council, that the liturgy “is the source and summit of the Church’s life”, by saying, “Going to Mass on Sunday is certainly a way to express and nourish faith, but it is not the fullness of faith, which is something that has to be lived in the context of the ordinary in solidarity with all that is good and true and beautiful in our world.” I tend to agree with someone who comments on this post and reminds Sister that in Jesus Christ we encounter the fullness of faith.

For me Sister and the commenter who speaks disdainfully of “the Institutional Church”, as if Christ found a Church without Apostolic leadership, seem to encapsulate a way of understand VII that praises it as concept yet denies its teaching.

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  1. Ben Trovato says:

    Being attacked by the Pill is no less than the good Bishop deserves: it’s like being mentioned in dispatches.

  2. irishgirl says:

    I’ve heard nothing but good things about Bishop Davies-I think he’s the best one of all the Bishops of England and Wales!
    Shame on the Bitter Pill (‘Tabula Delenda Est’, indeed) and on Sister Gemma for bashing the Bishop!

  3. asperges says:

    I could be very rude about the only thing the Tablet is good for. Yet it remains a firm favourite especially with clergy with any intellectual pretensions, the “lesser” Catholic papers good only for the minions in the pews, who of course, have no opinions of value or thoughts of their own.

    The blind stupidity of the likes of Sr / Dr Gemma (who, oddly, doesn’t wear a veil) who writes of Vatican II (the)“.. greatest gift to our time is the enduring legacy of the Council [VII], the most authoritative gathering of the Church on earth” makes me want to shout that on evidence alone, it was the worst thing to happy to the Mystical Body of Christ since the Reformation – or, to avoid splitting hairs – its aftermath was at least.

    Bravo to one of our Bishops who has had the guts to hold a mirror up to these people and show them the awful legacy: ignorance, half-truths, disobedience and faithlessness. When they have grasped that, we can stop wondering at the Emperor’s new clothes.

  4. wanda says:

    ‘Going to Mass on Sunday is certainly a way to express and nourish faith, but it is not the fullness of faith..’!!!??

    Oh, and here I was thinking that the Eucharist IS THE source and summit of our faith. Dopey me.

  5. Veronica says:

    Sister Gemma might have pretentions of being “intellectual”, but she clearly failed the basic Cathechism class. She must be sent to the corner and asked to write 1000 times “The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Church’s life.” Maybe then she will finally get it.

    As for not wearing veil as @asperges pointed out, and holding to liberal ideas? Why does it not suprise me?

  6. RobertK says:

    This Sister reminds me of Larry the Vatican 2 guy.

  7. pfreddys says:

    “The kindly Bishop was not criticising a previous generation for failing to provide an immediate experience of the beatific vision.” Very Very witty!

  8. HeatherPA says:

    “Going to Mass on Sunday is certainly a way to express and nourish faith, but it is not the fullness of faith, which is something that has to be lived in the context of the ordinary in solidarity with all that is good and true and beautiful in our world.”
    Dear Sr. Gemma….. I think you need a silent retreat with the contemplative Sisters. There you may finally discover what is “good and true and beautiful in our world” as you pray with cloistered nuns in front of your Divine Spouse and hear His voice during Holy Mass. Therein lies true nourishment.

  9. I sometimes think the bad-ness of the transmission of the faith is exaggerated … I’m way way past Vatican II, and while what I got was far from great, it wasn’t THAT bad.

    “divinity of Christ”

    Definitely emphasized.

    “the infallibility of the Church”

    Knew about Papal infallibility, at least, so call that a maybe.

    “the real presence”

    Not emphasized nearly as much as it should be, I’ll grant, but we did learn it.

    “the Sunday Mass obligation”

    Same as above, IIRC, mentioned in context of the Ten Commandments at least.

    “the wrongfulness of artificial contraception”
    We did learn that, though maybe not till later (middle school, maybe even 9th/10th grade … I definitely remember it discussed in ‘Confirmation prep’ catechesis).

    “the existence of purgatory”
    We knew it was *there*, and that believing in it was one of the things that distinguished Catholics from other Christians … but I don’t remember having more than the vaguest idea of what it was before 9th/10th grade.

  10. EDIT: And I ought to clarify that I don’t get the feeling that my upbringing was ‘more Catholic’ than other Catholic people I know/knew; less so than some I can think of. Most of my raised-Catholic friends definitely learned all that stuff.

    So either my peer group was unusually well-off in this respect (which I doubt, because it was the same way in the church I attended at college, which was a wider geographical selection) or there’s a degree of negative bias (ie the worse leaves a bigger impression/is remembered better) in the way this stuff is portrayed.

  11. Blaise says:

    abiolgist… I think it all depends on what you consider “well off”. Admittedly everything you mentioned should be included, but what about:
    #the resurrection
    #the communion of saints
    #the effectiveness of prayer for the dead
    #the corporal works of mercy
    #the Church as the mystical body of Christ
    # the spiritual works of mercy
    #the Holy Spirit
    #God as Trinity
    #the nature of the priesthood
    #the seven sacraments

  12. Supertradmum says:

    Bishop Davies is highly respected in England. The youth listen to him, as he speaks the Truth clearly and bravely.

    Parents have not educated their children in the Faith in England, as I know from the experience of many of my friends. Too many parents left it up to mediocre, heretical schools, many which still spew out protestantized Catholics. Also, because of parents themselves not living their Faith, children fell away. For example, parents wondered why their daughter left the Church when they allowed her to come to their house with live-in boyfriend and continue to live together as if married under their roof. Another example are some parents I know who have caved on the lgtb issues merely because one of their children have gone into that lifestyle. One is either clear and faithful, or not, and the not created a generation of fallen-away youth. In addition, I have had long discussions with parents who do not make their children go to Mass after 16, yet pay for their room and board. Again, the parents are allowing, tolerating sin, serious sin. These discussions have gone on with my English friends all Spring, Summer and Fall. Some parents are neglecting to BE parents and only want to be friends. Basically, they are cowards. Bishop Davies is spot on.

    The Eucharist, Mass, is the centerpiece of our Faith, but that, a centerpiece. It is true, total nourishment, but only if a person can accept the graces which are given. If one is a heretic, or in mortal sin, there are no graces received at Mass, and how does one know this without teaching, studying, praying? In the old days, when people could not get to daily Mass, daily prayers at home and the catechism sustained people. This idea that we can be believers without any intellectual assent to the Faith is not adult acceptance of the Teaching Magisterium. Adoration, daily prayer, frequent Confession, catechesis (a life-long task) and the Mass are all needed.

    I know that I shall be judged at the particular and general judgement as to whether I passed on the Faith to my child. This is what God asks of all parents. I can say “yes”, and what our children do after they become adults, after they have left, is still part of our ministry as parents.

  13. Jack Regan says:

    The worrying thing for me in all this is the combative stance that Bp. Davies seems to be inspiring in a lot of people at the moment.

    He seems to be a great guy, and he has hit the ground running with some really good initiatives and statements. All Good.

    Problem is though that the “left” seem to want to attack him and the “right” (Oh, how I hate those terms – but they serve a purpose for now) seem to want to use him to attack others.

    Those reporting on him who agree with his stances might do better simple to say “Bp. Davies sais such-and-such… which is great” without then adding something about how it is one in the eye for the other E&W Bishops and how it’s likely to annoy the “Tabletistas.”

    Similarly, the Tablet crowd need to find a way to tackle his sentiments in a way which doesn’t make it look like they see him as a threat.

    Certainly, in the former case, I think it will damage Bp. Davies in the long term if his supporters are allowed to paint him as being specifically against certain other sections of the E&W Church.

    A few years back, Bp. O’Donoghue was in the same position as Bp. Davies is now, and he allowed (and I think perhaps encouraged) himself to be painted in this way and it led to him being very isolated in the Bishops’ Conference and to his agenda ultimately stalling.

    I like Bp. Davies and I hope his ideas go somewhere. I really do.

  14. Jack Regan says:

    Loads of typos there!!

  15. Blaise says:

    supertradmum. I agree. As Vatican II had it:

    Since parents have given children their life, they are bound by the most serious obligation to educate their offspring and therefore must be recognized as the primary and principal educators.(11) This role in education is so important that only with difficulty can it be supplied where it is lacking. Parents are the ones who must create a family atmosphere animated by love and respect for God and man, in which the well-rounded personal and social education of children is fostered. Hence the family is the first school of the social virtues that every society needs. It is particularly in the Christian family, enriched by the grace and office of the sacrament of matrimony, that children should be taught from their early years to have a knowledge of God according to the faith received in Baptism, to worship Him, and to love their neighbor. Here, too, they find their first experience of a wholesome human society and of the Church. Finally, it is through the family that they are gradually led to a companionship with their fellowmen and with the people of God. Let parents, then, recognize the inestimable importance a truly Christian family has for the life and progress of God’s own people,/b..

    (Gravissimum Educationis para 3).
    Everything I read and hear about or by Bishop Davies is positive; the fact that he is prepared to call a spade a spade (or perhaps a dung heap a dung heap) and start working and praying to bring about change is far more important than what the Tablet has to say. Let’s hope in a couple of years time we have some more young, faithful and realistic bishops in England & Wales .
    I particularly liked the conclusion to his homily to end the Marian Year in his diocese,

    Following the example of our first bishop and the founding generation I wish to once more entrust this Diocese to Mary always the Help of Christians. Before the Lady Statue in this Cathedral, the image of which has now travelled to every parish and school in the Diocese, I invite you to join me in entrusting the life and future of this Shrewsbury Diocese to the Mother of God and the Mother of us all. So may we increase in faith and in faithfulness in all our vocations. For this is the pastoral plan always needed, the first generation of this Diocese had seen it so clearly, to say with her: “let it be to me according to your word.” Amen

    It can be found here:


  17. Tammy says:

    Yes, it is our task to teach our young and Im trying. God is amazing enough, however,to fix even the most broken line of faith.

    I come from a historically strong Catholic family and my mother left the Church. I was not raised with Catholicism (or any other faith) and the Church was spoken of only with bitterness. With no Church in my personal history at all I became a full fledged convert to The Faith and raise my kids in it.

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