I was glancing through my tracker the other day when I saw the strange entry below. Someone had come to view my Honest to God post from a proboard forum. I wondered what was up? Had someone linked to me from this forum?
A closer look, below, showed that it was a catholic forum which had a specific thread dealing with the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP)
Well, my curiosity aroused, I went over for a look. And that's when I met Hibernicus, who was having a serious go at me.
He had seen me commenting on the ACP website and, in view of the horrible things I was saying, had decided to suss me out. He was distinctly not impressed, so, if you are not yet ready to read his full rant, let me enlighten you and comment on some of his findings.
"was much given to sneering at the devotional practices of the pre-Vatican II Church, lamenting in a snarky and condescending manner the failure of Veritas to stock the sort of "exciting" theologians he admires, posting pictures of Pope Benedict as Darth Vader, and issuing maudlin eulogies of the Holy Martyr Tony and his Companions Iggy and Brendan, I assumed he was just another embittered "Spirit of Vatican II" holdover from the sixties generation."This is a pretty compact summary, but I would have to take issue with, at least, some of it.
I certainly think that some of the devotional practices with which I was brought up were reprehensible to say the least.
The constant emphasis on sin and guilt and the fear of burning forever in the fires of hell, were detrimental to a child's positive psychological and moral development. They also emphasised the need for frequent confession and validated the currency of indulgences. All of which in turn maintained the power of the clerical authorities and their insistence on unquestioning obedience in matters they considered related to morality.
The manner in which indulgences, and even masses, were sold was little different from the practices to which Martin Luther rightly took exception in his day. Nowadays, of course, with a slightly more sophisticated public to deal with, the Church has refined the manner in which it presents these matters, claiming that the underlying theology was always sound, and that these things had been mis-sold by ignorant ministers to a gullible faithful. Definitely guilty as charged here.
Apparently I am also guilty of finding Paul Tillich and John Robinson "exciting" theologians. Again, guilty as charged.
My comparison of Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI to Darth Vader, did not go down well. I had considered accusing him of being the Anti-Christ (more particularly so after his disgusting, self-serving and abusive letter to the Irish people on the matter of child abuse) but I thought I'd mitigate the charge in the interest of politeness and settle for Darth Vader instead.
I think I am being accused of being 'just another embittered "Spirit of Vatican II" holdover from the sixties generation' though I think the charge may have been upped further down the rant. I make no apologies for thinking things were changing with Vatican II. I'm sure John XXIII eventually thought the same and that he'd be seriously disappointed if he came back and saw what an unholy mess the Vatican had made of his project.
Be aware that the phrase "Spirit of Vatican II" is a term of abuse for people like Hibernicus. They see it as a fluffily defined à la carte menu where people can take what suits them from Vatican II and ignore the rest. I see the phrase as something positive and inspirational and an attempt to circumvent the disgraceful clawback of the promise of that Council. Definitely guilty here.
Then I am apparently eulogising Fr. Tony Flannery's eructation. I had to look up that word, never having heard it before though Hibernicus seems to use it a bit. It means belching or the like. I immediately thought of farting cows and global warming, but figured I should come back down to earth and read on. I think I'd have to take the fifth on this one. I certainly admire Tony Flannery and Brendan Hoban and Seán McDonagh, the real ones that is.
Hibernicus then discovered that I am an unbeliever, something I have been carefully trying to hide for the last forty years, and he then accuses me of popping round to church on a regular basis. I'm not sure what I'm being accused of here. Having my cake and eating it I suppose. He probably thinks I'll end up sending for a priest on my deathbed. Don't think so.
He feels the title of this blog is "a blasphemous sneer at the Blessed Sacrament". That's one way of looking at it, I suppose. I see it as a mildly jocose wordplay, but if something more is to be made of it, I have to confess that the real presence, as conventionally presented, does needs a serious overhaul. I have referred to this in my paper for last year's Eucharistic Congress.
This next bit tickled me. Hibernicus is raising me to the priesthood, in the company of Seán Fagan. I think the red mist has him confusing me with Tony Flannery.
"Frs Fagan and O Duibhir ought to examine their consciences at attracting this variety of admirer - that is, if their consciences had not atrophied under pressure from their ever-inflating egos."Whatever about us all being our brother's keeper, I don't think these worthy clerics can be held responsible for the "sins" of their fans. I assume the underlying thought here is of giving scandal. Perhaps the universal church would think of examining its own conscience in this matter.
Apparently Pope Benedict deserves a round of applause for getting rid of the monster Maciel. Fair enough. He might have merited three cheers had he publicly denounced this friend of his predecessor while the latter was still on this earth. That would be speaking truth to power, would it not? Christlike, even.
And then there's purgatory and indulgences. It's a pity Hibernicus wasn't around to explain his refined theology to all those poor souls who scurried fearfully around collecting days, months, quarantines and years of remission with the full backing of the holy powers that be.
Anyway, I think I'll leave it at that. If you haven't clicked on the link to Hibernicus's post/comment, here it is again.
Hibernicus's avatar is Frederick Ozanam, the founder of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, and the Irish Catholics' Forum is carried on under the watchful eye of St. VdeP himself. So it seems appropriate enough to leave you with Hibernicus's image of his sponsor.