The Catholic Church in this country has suffered in the past by not having such a group, we desperately need such a group of intelligent, well informed, loyal lay men and women if we are to engage with secularism in the way in which the Holy Father spelt out during his visit.
Now, if I were running the not normally very articulate Catholic Media Office my first priority would be to get together lists of prominent Catholic lawyers, scientists, doctors, politicians, artists etc who would be willing to write or speak in defence of the Magisterium. My next priority would be to train diocesan, deanery and parish groups to do the same.
But who would one ask to speak for the Catholic Church?
John Allen interviews Austen Ivereigh, one paragraph has caused a rumble in some parts of the English Catholic blogosphere, which deals precisely with this, "Who?", in this case, who was suitable for Catholic Voices.
We didn’t get an application from a Lefebvrite. We did get a few from what you would call the “Taliban Catholics,” who of course have become very vociferous on the blogosphere in the last few years. They’re very critical of the bishops for compromising too much with modernity and not promoting Catholic truth as they see it. We also had applications from people in favor of the ordination of women, and who in general believe that the reforms of Vatican II have been insufficiently implemented, and who are angry at the bishops for the opposite reasons.Ivereigh is perhaps a little less urbane than Uncle Jack Valero and his use of what The Sensible Bond describes as the "boo word" / phrase: "Taliban Catholic" does make one ask quite who is acceptable. It makes me ask if Mr Ivereigh had me in mind as a Taliban Catholic, or pne or two other priest bloggers, or John Smeaton or other passionate Catholics.
We had one application from a woman called Pat Brown, who made it to an interview because we didn’t quite understand where she was coming from. In the interview she said, I believe in the ordination of women and I want to use this, when the pope is here, as a vehicle for talking about that. We said that’s not really right for us, and we explained. She got very upset, which led to the formation of what’s called “Catholic Voices for Reform.” It’s slightly annoying they took our name!
Ches highlights this passage:
They’re very critical of the bishops for compromising too much with modernity and not promoting Catholic truth as they see it.I would describe Damian Thompson as a "Taliban Catholic", and I thank God for him, for highlighting some of the silliness in our Church, he is highly critical of the bishops - and some clergy. I believe having a loyal but critical laity is of great importance, if for no other reason than saving the Church from itself. Few could have stopped the Irish clerical abuse horrors but maybe a loyal critical laity holding the heirarchy to account could have stopped some of the wickedness which has multiplied the Church's woes which has come as result of the cover-up of these "unspeakable crimes" by the Irish bishops. A large part of the Irish problem was having a laity who refused to question and co-operated with the Bishop's sin, even their crimes in the cover-up.
In 1535, all the English Bishops, except St John Fisher, who might well have been described as a "Taliban" Catholic by Ivereigh, sold out the Church. The message of 1535 reminds us ordinary priests and laity of the importance of loyal criticism, of holding our bishops to account.
At the last Ad Limina visit the Pope said to our bishops: