Another Stern Talking-To from Pope Benedict to Scottish Bishops
By Hilary White, Rome correspondent ROME, February 5, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) –
There can be no compromise on the life issues and the struggle against secularism, the pope told the visiting Scottish bishops this week. In his speech at their “ad limina” visit and closely following similarly stern comments on Tuesday to the bishops of England and Wales, Benedict told the Scottish bishops that they must “grapple” with the “increasing tide of secularism” in Scotland, and held up the 16th century martyr St. John Ogilvie as a model.
Pope Benedict directly linked the secularist mentality to attacks on human life, saying support for euthanasia “strikes at the very heart of the Christian understanding of the dignity of human life.” Benedict also noted, “Recent developments in medical ethics and some of the practices advocated in the field of embryology give cause for great concern.”
The pope openly chided the bishops, saying that only complete support for all Catholic teaching can lend credibility to their voices: “If the Church’s teaching is compromised, even slightly, in one such area, then it becomes hard to defend the fullness of Catholic doctrine in an integral manner.”
The pope’s comments coincide closely with those he gave last week when he urged the bishops of England and Wales to present Catholic moral teaching "in its entirety" and are a strong hint that all his not well, in the eyes of the Vatican, in the British Catholic Church.
On Tuesday, he urged the English Church leadership “to speak with a united voice,” and warned them against doctrinal “dissent” in a society that “encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises.”
“It is the truth revealed through Scripture and Tradition and articulated by the Church’s Magisterium that sets us free.”
Today he took up the theme again, urging the Scottish bishops to adhere to the official teaching of the Catholic Church: “Pastors of the Church, therefore, must continually call the faithful to complete fidelity to the Church’s Magisterium, while at the same time upholding and defending the Church’s right to live freely in society according to her beliefs.”
In a speech that was short on the usual diplomatic expressions of camaraderie and harmony, the pope hinted at tensions in the relationship between the bishops of Scotland and the Holy See. Speaking of the link between the world’s dioceses and the See of Peter as the “reality that lies at the heart of every Catholic diocese,” the pope said that “pastoral initiatives that take due account of this essential dimension bring authentic renewal.”
“When the bonds of communion with the universal Church, and in particular with Rome, are accepted joyfully and lived fully, the people’s faith can grow freely and yield a harvest of good works,” Benedict added.
The pope illustrated his theme by reminding the bishops of the life of Saint John Ogilvie, the 16th century Scottish convert and martyr who was arrested in 1614 and hanged and disembowelled after torture for his refusal to give up the Catholic faith and revert to Protestantism. In 1560 it had become illegal and a capital offence to preach, proselytise for, or otherwise endorse Catholicism.
Catholic commentators have not missed the note of correction in Pope Benedict’s remarks to the bishops of Britain. John Smeaton, head of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children said the pope’s “strong words” were welcome by many laity who have long seen themselves as alone in the fight against the rising tide of anti-religious legislation in Britain.
“The Pope's warnings and directions about dissent from Church teaching on life and family issues will be greatly appreciated by countless ordinary Catholic and non-Catholic citizens in Britain,” Smeaton said.
“They are distressed by the undermining of Catholic pro-life and pro-family witness by influential clergy, laity, bodies and publications at home and abroad.”
Many Catholic laity have complained of the laxity of the Church leadership on sexual issues as well as abortion, contraception and euthanasia. As the pope was delivering his address in Rome, in Scotland the notorious dissenting theologian, Professor Thomas Groome of Boston College, a laicised priest, is scheduled to deliver a lecture at St. Aloysius’s College in Glasgow, supported by the Archdiocese of Glasgow and the Scottish Catholic Education Service.
Groome is a “guru” of the post-1960s style of “experiential” catechetics and has openly opposed Catholic doctrine on the authority of the pope and magisterium and the limiting of the priesthood to celibate men. Influenced by the Chilean Marxist Paulo Freire, Karl Rahner and Leonardo Boff, he has written that he “suspects” divine revelation, the authority of the papacy and the ministerial priesthood and the sacraments. Groome’s books have been banned in at least one diocese - the Archdiocese of Sydney, which is under Cardinal George Pell.