Page 3, 13th August 2004

13th August 2004
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Page 3, 13th August 2004 — What the book actually says
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What the book actually says

Fr Seán Fagan ■ “It is taken for granted that morality does not change: what is right must always be right, what is wrong must always be wrong. But this is only partly true; it is an oversimplification.” ■ “Morality is based on reality, but reality itself changes, and our understanding of reality likewise changes, so inevitably there will be cases where what we dis cern as morally right may be judged differently as we change.” ■ “The Catholic Church stood out as the personification of unchanging permanence, a kind of rock of ages washed by the changing waves of history, but itself ever remaining the same. This image was badly shaken when the shock waves from Vatican Council II began to spread around the world ... the saddest part of the Church’s post-conciliar history is that so little was done to explain in reasonable, adult fashion what was actually happening ... most people, including some office-holders in the Church, did not understand or accept the changing reality. In fact in recent times there has been a distinct effort to ignore or even oppose the Vatican II vision.” ■ “The documents from the Council mark substantial changes in the Church’s self-understanding and teaching. In not a few cases they teach the direct opposite of what had been taught for centuries.” ■ “There are still people in the Church who lust after certainty, who imagine that religious truth and moral life should be totally clear, with no grey areas or hazy boundaries. To cope with insecurity and tension they look to authority for dictated solutions, and fail to realise that reality is too complicated for that.” ■ “In a few short years people became aware of the oversimplifications they had been accepting as absolute truth, and soon realised that some of the answers being preached by the Church were simply out of touch with the facts of their daily lives and the experience of their God-given conscience.” ■ “Truth cannot be simply ‘decreed’ and imposed, but only discovered and shared, and popes and bishops are not necessarily the first to discover it.” ■ “Church statements dealing with intimate details of family life are proclaimed without any consultation with married couples, and in complete ignorance of the Christian experience of the laity, especially women, who make up the bulk of Church membership.” ■ “Catholics today are much more confused, and saddened, by the spectacle of Church leaders whose primary role of bridge building and peace-making is blurred by their overriding concern for authority and obedience.” ■ “It is what Bishop Butler had in mind when he explained that, despite an unfortunate modern use of the word ‘magisterium’ to designate the bishops and the pope, magisterial authority is not limited to this official magisterial authority.” ■ “The official leadership of the Church cannot have the concrete answers to all moral problems in advance.”




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